And all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
I. THE INTEREST WHICH THE ANGELIC TAKES IN THE HUMAN WORLD. It is a striking and significant fact that the advent of Jesus Christ to our world should be preluded and accompanied by the ministry of angels (Luke 1:11, 26; Luke 2:9). It confirms the truth elsewhere indicated that the history of mankind is the subject of deep interest to the holy intelligences of heaven. They inquire with a pure and heavenly curiosity into the relations of God with man (1 Peter 1:12). They reverently admire the wisdom of God in his dealings with his human children (Ephesians 3:10). They rejoice over the smallest accession to the kingdom of God (Luke 15:10). They expend their powers in the accomplishment of God's will concerning us (text, and Hebrews 1:14). Our Savior is One in whom they also have profound interest, though they need not his redemption, and their worship of him is a large clement in their celestial joy (Ephesians 1:10; Revelation 5:11-13).
II. THE ADVENT OF CHRIST AN EPOCH IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD. Well might a multitude of the heavenly host chant those words of the text, "Glory to God in the highest;" well might they join in the high praises of the King of heaven. For when Jesus Christ came as he thus came, in lowliness of perfect humiliation (ver. 7), that the world into which he thus entered as a helpless babe might be redeemed and restored (vet. 10), two things were done.
1. The exceeding greatness of the Divine grace received its most wonderful illustration. Possibly - may we not say probably?-even the records of the kingdom of God contained no event illustrative of a more magnanimous pity and a more sacrificial love than this expression of "good will to men."
2. The foundation was ]aid on which a Divine kingdom of truth and righteousness should be reared. On the rock of the Divine incarnation rests the whole grand edifice of the restoration of the human race to the love and the likeness of God. Then indeed, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the glory of God was most fittingly celebrated; for then was the glory of his grace manifested, and then was the glory that should be rendered him by our humanity assured.
III. THE COMING OF CHRIST TO OUR WORLD THE INCOMING OF ITS PEACE. "Peace on earth." It has taken long for the work of Jesus Christ to bring about this result, even as things are today. And how much remains to be done! To some eyes it may seem as if only the elementary lesson had been learned. But if we look long enough and deep enough we shall see:
1. That the gospel of Jesus Christ has been, and is, offering to every burdened human heart a peace which is immeasurably profound and inestimably precious.
2. That the teaching and the Spirit of Jesus Christ are perfectly fitted to inculcate and to inspire peace, and even love, between man and man.
3. That under his benign government, and just so far as his will is consulted, man is leaving strife and discord below and behind him, and is moving on an upward path toward the sphere where peace and purity dwell together. - C.
And they came with haste. The course pursued by the shepherds is vividly typical of that which should be pursued by all Christian inquirers.
(Bishop H. C. Potter.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
C. H. Spurgeon. .This text seems to indicate four ways of serving God, four methods of executing holy work and exercising Christian thought. Each of the verses sets before us a different way of sacred service. I know not which of these four did God best service, but, I think, if we could combine all these mental emotions and outward exercises, we should be sure to praise God after a most godly and acceptable fashion.
I. SOME PUBLISHED ABROAD THE NEWS.
1. They had something to rehearse in men's ears well worth the telling. They had found out the answer to the perpetual riddle.
2. That "something" had in it the inimitable blending which is the secret sign and royal mark of Divine authorship; a peerless marrying of sublimity and simplicity; angels singing! — singing to shepherds! Heaven bright with glory! — bright at midnight! God — a Babe! The Infinite — an Infant a span long! The Ancient of Days — born of a woman! What more simple than the inn, the manger, a carpenter, a carpenter's wife, a child? What more sublime than a multitude of the heavenly host waking the midnight with their joyous chorales, and God Himself in human flesh made manifest?
3. The shepherds needed no excuse for publishing their news, for what they told they had first received from heaven. When heaven entrusts a man with a merciful revelation, he is bound to deliver the good tidings to others.
4. They spoke of what they had seen below. They had, by observation, made those truths most surely their own which had first been spoken to them by revelation. No man can speak of the things of God with any success until the doctrine which he finds in the Book he finds also in his heart.
II. SOME KEPT CHRISTMAS BY HOLY WONDER, ADMIRATION, AND ADORATION.
III. ONE, AT LEAST, PONDERED, MEDITATED, THOUGHT UPON THESE THINGS.
1. An exercise of memory.
2. An exercise of the affections.
3. An exercise of the intellect.
IV. OTHERS GLORIFIED GOD, AND GAVE HIM PRAISE.
1. They praised God for what they had heard.
2. They praised God for what they had seen.
3. They praised God for the agreement between what they had heard and what they had seen.
(C. H. Spurgeon. .)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. THEY RECEIVED THE HEAVENLY MANIFESTATION WITH BECOMING REVERENCE AND AWE. When "the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, they were sore afraid." They instantly thought of God, and referred the whole thing to its proper Divine source. A right mind and a right learning sees God in everything, and beholds in the commonest ongoings of the universe the manifestations of eternal Power and Godhead, as energetic in character, and as wonderful in results, as the setting up of the stars on high, or the calling forth of the world from its nothingness. It sees in every light that shines from heaven the herald of present Deity, and is ready to fall down in holy reverence at every new signal from the sky, as verily the forthcoming of the Almighty Creator and King of the universe, before whom every knee should bow, and every tongue confess, with trembling adoration. But we need especially to know and feel that it is the same dreadful Majesty that approaches us in the proclamation of the Christ. For where the gospel speaks, there God and His angels are.
II. THE SHEPHERDS RELIEVED WHAT THE HEAVENLY MESSENGER TOLD THEM. Their ready persuasion in this respect also serves to show how self-evidencing the true gospel is to minds that are unprejudiced and really open to it. Its obstructions are ethical. Its absence in those to whom the gospel is faithfully preached is not the result of the absence of sufficient demonstration, but of the absence of heart and will to be convinced, and to own allegiance to the truth. Men have intuition enough on this subject to do away with dialectics.
III. THE SHEPHERDS DILIGENTLY IMPROVED THE LIGHT THEY RECEIVED. They were not satisfied with the mere hearing of the new-born Saviour, but must needs go and see what had occurred. Faith is an active principle. It cannot know of a Saviour and not go in search of Him. Let the impediments be what they may, it will on. There is a most important sense in which He is still here. He is in His word, in His sacraments, in His Church. This is now the Bethlehem to which we must go to seek Him.
IV. THE SHEPHERDS WERE AMPLY REWARDED FOR THEIR PAINS. They found the Saviour whom the angel announced. Earnestly seeking, they also joyfully find.
V. THE SHEPHERDS, HAVING FOUND THE CHRIST THEMSELVES, FREELY CONFESSED HIM BEFORE THE WORLD. "When they had seen, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child." Christianity deals with men as individuals. But man is a social being, and social results must necessarily follow from the intense impulses which faith kindles in the individual soul. And as our existence must needs affect others, so our personal experiences also have relations, and are meant to have effects, beyond our individual selves.
VI. THE SHEPHERDS RETURNED TO THEIR FLOCKS GLORIFYING GOD. True religion was not meant to take men away from the ordinary pursuits of life, but to go with us into them to consecrate them, and to give us new comforts in them.
(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
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