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May 16, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“And in a flash there appeared with the angel a vast host of the armies of Heaven, praising God, saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest Heaven! Peace upon earth among men of goodwill!’”—Luke 2:13–14 (PHILLIPS)
A few years ago, I went to a worship concert with my wife and a few friends. It was an experience! I love live music, and I’ve been to some awesome performances in my time—even having sung in some epic concerts and operas—but no musical experience I had up to that point was able to compare with that night in Miami.
Hearing more than 20,000 people in unison singing to the Lord, passionately worshiping Him, is something I still remember vividly today. That concert was later made into a live album. Each time I listen to it I’m moved, particularly when the audience sings along with the musicians—sounding like one unified voice. Seriously, I wish you could have been there!
In Luke 2:10–14, we read about the greatest concert in history: the night the angels filled the sky to sing, “Glory to God in the highest Heaven! Peace upon earth among men of goodwill!” Now, I love the J.B. PHILLIPS translation of this passage because it says, “a vast host of the armies of Heaven,” which implies a large number of angels—some believe over 70,000. You could say this was the army of the Great King proclaiming the greatness of the Lord on the night His Son—the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace—was born!
Imagine being a shepherd in the fields on this night. Just try to picture this indescribable scene of close to 100,000 angels filling the sky, singing in unison. Believe me, whatever you’re picturing in your head right now, no matter how awesome and fantastical and majestic, it could never do justice to the epic concert that took place on that world-changing night when Christ was born. And it was all done in order to declare the good news that the Savior had been born unto us . . . the One who would bring peace to Earth.
There has never been, nor ever will be, news more spectacular than the Son of God becoming the Son of Man in order to deliver humanity from its fallen state. Nothing comes close! But if you ask me, the angelic host isn’t the most amazing and beautiful part of this moment. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: Danny, what have I missed here that could possibly be more amazing than the angel army singing praises to God? Well, it’s whom God chose to host this concert for! Of all the people He could have chosen to be the first to receive the news of Christ’s birth, He chose shepherds!
What’s wrong with shepherds? They seem like a tender bunch of well-bearded, animal-loving guys. To put it mildly, shepherds weren’t at the top of anyone’s social list in biblical times. They were constantly around filthy animals and spent most of their lives outdoors than indoors. It doesn’t take much imagination to envision how soiled, stained and smelly these men were.
Beyond these outward issues, shepherds had a reputation of being social outcasts. Many regarded them like the animals they lived alongside then men made in the image and likeness of God. There’s even ancient evidence that shepherds weren’t allowed to testify in court!
So, marvel at what God did by choosing these men to be the first to receive the greatest news of all time! These men probably never imagined that anyone would share anything important with them, much less God telling them the Savior of the world had arrived!
This shows us that God does things so differently than we do. When you think about it, this aspect of His character is why there even is a Christmas in the first place! If God did things the way we would, He wouldn’t have sent His most precious Son to suffer and die on our behalf in order that we may have peace with Him—and mercy and love wouldn’t have triumphed over sin and death.
Praise God that He is so different from us . . . and may our remembrance of this reality make this Christmas very merry!
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.