Let’s reflect for a moment on the joy of the angels at Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:13-14). There’s more to their joy than our everyday garden-variety joy.
You see, their joy is not in their own salvation. In fact, angels will never know the joy of their own salvation. Remarkably, the Epistle to the Hebrews even tells us that “it is not angels that [Jesus] helps” (Hebrews 2:16). What, then, is the joy that angels know at Jesus’ birth? Theirs is a joy in the glory of God in our salvation, a joy that has been welling up, literally, for millennia, since the beginning of time, way back during creation week.
Yes, the angels who sang during creation week (Job 38:4-7) — the cherubim, the seraphim, the archangels, and all the other ranks of angels — they were all present at the creation of our first parents.
They were also there at the fall of Adam and Eve. In truth, it was one of the angels’ very own number — a cherub named Lucifer — who rebelled against God, took the form of a serpent, and tempted our first parents into sin, bringing judgment on the whole human race (Ezekiel 28:14-19).
Angels were also there as God banished sinful Adam, Eve, and the serpent from the garden. Those angels — the ones who remained obedient — took their stations as guardians of the way to the tree of life, and they watched as God drove the man, his wife, and the serpent from the garden sanctuary into exile (Genesis 3:24).
Later, in the days of Moses, angels appeared in the tabernacle, their likenesses woven into the furnishings, emblematically guarding the Holy of Holies against the defilement of sinners (Exodus 25:17-22).
There they stayed … looking … watching … longing to see the triumph of God’s grace brought into history in the birth of that Savior who would deliver His people from sin and death (1 Peter 1:12).
We’re not surprised, then, when angels show up in Bethlehem, speaking to Joseph (Matthew 1:20-21), to Mary (Luke 1:26-38), and to shepherds (Luke 2:8-20) of the Savior’s birth. To this day, those angels speak to us as the Holy Spirit speaks through their words recorded in Scripture. Indeed, Jesus tells us that they are watching still to see the triumph of God’s grace in us sinners, as we receive and rest in Jesus alone for salvation (Luke 15:10).
This Christmas, as we celebrate the Incarnation, let’s be sure that we have learned and remember what the angels, as officers of the Heavenly Court that they are, have told us sinners about Jesus and His birth.
This Christmas, be sure to share the angels’ joy and to share it in the confession that, by grace alone through faith alone, Jesus has saved you from the bondage of your sins!