“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favour rests.” —Luke 2:14
With Christmas just around the corner, we have probably heard the opening verse of this devotion read in church or even sung in song.
However, the reality of the circumstances surrounding the opening verse when it was spoken over the shepherds watching their sheep in the field by the angel was full of suffering, military oppression and displacement. Rome was still an oppressor with Caesar doing what Caesar does. Conflict and war were a part of everyday life. Yet, the mystery of Christmas as we celebrate Jesus is that He—the One who dwelt in glory with God—clothed Himself with humanity and stepped into the suffering of humanity to make us whole again, to restore what was lost when sin entered the human condition.
The Greek word for “glory” is doxa, which is associated with “honour, praise, speaking of words of excellence and assigning highest status to God.” Doxa corresponds closely with its Hebrew equivalent kavod which conveys the meaning of “something that is laden with abundance, fullness, weight, mass.” In other words, the glory of God is vast and beyond measure.
As a result of God opening the eyes of the shepherd to see a glimpse of His glory and to hear the pronouncement of the birth of Jesus Christ, Luke 2:20 tells us, “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” The Greek word for “glorifying” is doxazō, which means “to extol, magnify; to adore, worship; to invest with dignity or majesty; to signalize with a manifestation of dignity, excellence, or majesty; to glorify by admission to a state of bliss.” The shepherds’ response shows us that when we truly experience the glory of God, we will become overwhelmed by the awe and wonder of who He actually is and our natural response will be to give Him praise and worship. The shepherds saw the doxa of God and returned doxa-ing; it could not be contained and they could not help it.
The glory of God had become the shepherd’s delight. Although the circumstances of the shepherds had not changed, they left that moment transformed. Why? Because when we encounter His glory, we cannot help but praise and worship His infinite worth. As we praise and worship His infinite worth, we begin to experience His limitless peace. As we experience His limitless peace, we go around telling others about His infinite worth and His limitless peace.
Just as the shepherds went worshipping and praising God because of what they had seen and had witnessed, may we bear witness of the glory of God with us this Christmas.
Dear God, Your glory is my delight. Please give me the boldness and courage to bear witness of Your glory to everyone I meet this Christmas. Thank You, Lord.