It's definitely a highlight of the advent narrative when an angel appears to lowly shepherds to announce our Savior’s birth. As the heavenly host gave praise to God in the highest, the glory of the Lord shone round about those shepherds. No wonder Luke says they “feared a great fear”.
Have you ever stopped to ask, whom were the angels worshiping?
It may sound like a silly question. Of course, they’re worshiping God! They even say that. But let’s correlate this passage with one of my favorites from Hebrews:
And again, when [God] brings [Jesus] into the world, he says,
“Let all God's angels worship him.”
When God sent His Son into the world, He directed His angels to worship Jesus. Isn’t that what was happening when the angels announced Christ’s birth?
As the angels gave praise to God in the highest, they were indeed worshiping Jesus. Because Jesus is Lord: Immanuel, God with us. He came humbly and lay in a manger, but though his glory was veiled to us it was seen clearly by the angels. Peter tells us the angels long to understand God’s agenda in Scripture. Believe me: on those hills in Galilee, they understood.
Why does this matter?
It matters because the deity of Christ is the heart of the Christianfaith. Many religions affirm Jesus to be a good man, a wise teacher or revered prophet. But the Bible gives no such option.
That’s why the angels gave praise: God gave his very best, he gave his Son. It was Jesus who would bear the sins of the world on a cruel Roman cross. It was Jesus who would redeem sinners, both Jew and Gentile. He couldn’t do this if he were a mere man. He couldn’t do this if he were not God. No deity, no cross. No cross, no Christianity and no future hope for sinners. It was for this reason the prophets foretold his birth and called him the Prince of Peace and Mighty God. That’s a strange baby announcement! As a pastor I love greeting babies in the hospital – never once has one been handed to me, “we’ve named him God.”
So this Christmas, when your pastor preaches on the angelic visitation or children sing about shepherds keeping watch over their sheep by night, remember this one glorious truth: Jesus is Lord. He was Lord at his birth and is now and forevermore the recipient of angelic worship. Angels don’t worship people they worship God.
How humbling: the One who lay in a manger was praised and adored by angels.
And one day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.