10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven–things into which angels long to look. – 1 Peter 1:10-12 NASB
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” 15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” – Luke 2:8-15 NASB
We think maybe this happened because that is the proper story. All the points in the Christmas story have become iconified, stripped of their wonder. The Gospel of Christ which has been announced to us, is a revelation which was hidden from the angels, and was revelation for which they longed. Thus when Christ was born, the universe could not contain its joy. The angels exploded in myriads to the shepherds because the joy of His coming could not be contained. This is the explosion of the pent up expectation of the heavenly hosts and the myriads of angels who had waited an eternity to see this day (1 Peter 1:12). I can imagine the angels pleading with God – “Can’t we tell ANYONE?!” And God finally said, “OK, but it needs to be kept quiet. How about these night-watch shepherds?” They could not help but explode with joy and praise. If they did not, as Jesus said, even the rocks would cry out. And this great expectation and joy all centers around what Jesus has done for us, the believers, His bride, the church.
Which ones are the ones with whom God is pleased? Surely it is not me. Doesn’t this little phrase take all the air out of our balloon – ‘with whom He is well-pleased’? This is a message of great joy for all those other people, but not me. Isn’t that what we think? Is it those who are religiously successful with whom God is well-pleased? The pharisees were the most religiously successful people ever. But Jesus hung out with the sinners and the prostitutes and the addicts and the tax-gatherers. They threw Him parties to the point that it scandalized the pharisees! Is it not these with whom God is well-pleased? The people who believed in Christ, the realizer of grace and truth! He is the bringer of grace to the ungodly and to sinners. And for you and me, that is GOOD NEWS. It is a GREAT JOY! We are the believers in lavish grace without measure, given not as what is due as a karmic reward, but as a free gift, far beyond all that we could ask or think – much more deserve.
These things the angels hoped for, which were predicted, all came exactly to pass. The simple gospel whose grace we have received, is the thing into which angels longed to look. He really was born of a virgin. He was born in Bethlehem. He was a suffering servant. Every last thing, every detail came true. How much more is our hope in His coming justified?! Our hope in heaven is most certainly justified. When you, my dear friend, enter heaven, there will be trumpets blasting and confetti pouring down, and dancing in the streets. It will be a great party, a great love affair, and it is going to last a very very long time. Rejoice!