“‘Glory to God’: Angels on Christ Birth”
Pastor Thom Rittichier
I don’t know about you, but every year at Christmas, this happens at our house. And yes, sometimes I am the culprit. There is no name on this gift. Does that ever happened to your house? We have it happen because there are a few folks at our house that are putting these gifts together. And you know how that goes. As a matter of fact, that is classic, as was shown in a classic film that we have. (shows clip from “The Least of These” where gifts are wrapped without name tags) We have copies of “The Least of These”, a matter of fact, I have them in the back there. And it’s good film. Some here have expressed to me that this is a Christmas tradition for them, to watch this film. That would be a good, good Christmas tradition. Well, like that, it happens at our house too, that there are no names on the gift.
That was definitely not the case on the first Christmas, when the Lord gave, what the Bible calls, the indescribable gift. It says it like this, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift”, 2 Corinthians 9:15. The gift of God’s love. And in the Old Testament, that child to be born to us, the son given, was spoken about prophetically, this is happening in the future. Isaiah 7:14, “A sign will be given to you. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son.” And in Isaiah 9:6, For to us a child born, to us a son given,….and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” That was the Old Testament predictions. And then when that played out, when those foretold events began to take place, there is the angels that step in and introduce him by name, and they do it repeatedly. The resounding theme of this was “Glory to God”, that was what the angels resoundingly responded to the unfolding of this in time, space and history. In a fallen world with the difficulties and the devastations that are just current for us today. And this name, that the angels repeatedly gave to him, gives us a knowledge of what we have for sure. And how to make use of it. Yes, like even today. The angels, on Christ birth, “Glory to God in the highest” they proclaimed.
This morning, we’re gonna take a look at scene one of “Things on Christ’s Birth”, we’re going to look at different people, yes, even God Himself. And this morning, we start with what the angels had to say. I’m going to ask you to turn with me to Luke, chapter one. On Christ’s Birth, the angels. As you’re turning there, I want to put up this passage for you. Matthew 1:18, “Now, the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way”. The birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. Now, that’s a significant point. Because for Jesus to accomplish what he did in his life on earth, and what God’s mission was for him from his life on earth for eternity, for people like you and me, this thing had to take place in this way. It is a distinct way. It is a unique way. It is a way that has never taken place like this before or after. It’s this way. And it’s an important factor for us in being sure of what we have and how to use it for today, in this fallen world.
Matthew 1:18, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed”, pledged in a future marriage, which was just as binding then as marriage itself. As a matter of fact, you had to go through legal procedure to stop a betrothal, a pledge, from being fulfilled, it had to be a legal procedure. When she had been betrothed “to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child”. The way that’s spoken of here is very important for this mission, she was with child, that raises eyebrows. The way this is described, this way, is “she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit”. This conception, which is uniquely described, this conception is the fulfillment of Jesus being the seed of the woman. Like the first statement of God’s act to rescue us, the first one, the seed of the woman will crush the serpent’s head. This way, had to take place for her to be the seed of the woman. Psalm 132:11 describes this, where David is told that from his own body will come the one who sits on the throne. But without this seed from man. In this reproductive cycle, there are 32 pairs of chromosomes, 46 that come together to make pairs. In this, there were the chromosomes from Mary, but not from Joseph, they had not come together. This is from the Holy Spirit. So that Jesus was not born a sinner, who was bent away from God. It was through one man, Adam, that sin entered the world and death through sin, and death spread to all men, but not this one, not him. Because his birth took place in this way, the seed of the woman, fully human, and of the Spirit.
Now, this is where we’re going to pick up on the angels, naming names. If you’re with me, in Luke chapter one, I want to pick up at verse number 26. Now, this is before Jesus birth. As a matter of fact, we’re going to have three points and every one of these has a specific purpose that’s identified. This is the first one here, before his birth, the angel comes to Mary and Joseph for a specific purpose. Here the purpose is for replacing fear, for replacing the anxiety and the duress of this, before Jesus birth to Mary and Joseph for the replacing of fear. We begin in verse 26, “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to”, pledged as we saw in Matthew, “a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David”. He was of that lineage, that was his family. “And the virgin’s name was Mary”, who also was of the house of David. “And he came to her and said, Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you! But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” What might this be, that he’s getting across? Interesting experience here. This female from Nazareth has an angel appear, and the way he’s talking, she thinks, What’s up with this? Why is this being said, Hail, one loved of God, favored by God, not graced in the sense that your grace wins my favor, no. But one whose grace expressed is shown in favor. “And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name, Jesus.” You shall conceive. You know, the way that that word is put together, it has a prefix, and then statement, and it says, You shall take hold with union. That’s the idea that’s in this word, you shall conceive, you shall take hold in your womb, and that is an excellent description of conception. Excellent. There is the 23 chromosomes from the male cell and the 23 chromosomes from the female cell. And in this union, there is then the taking hold in the implanting in the womb. Mary, you’re going to conceive, it’s a common expression for this. But what’s uncommon is that you shall bear a son and call him Jesus.
Now this named Jesus, to Mary as it was said, is the Greek rendering of the word Yeshua. And what that means-Yeshua, referring to Yahweh, I AM, the great I AM-is salvation. You shall call him the Lord, I AM, is salvation. That’s what you will name him. Now, I want you to know that that name, Yeshua, isn’t used much. I’ve heard of it on occasion, but it’s not used much in our country. I have heard of it on occasion, that a person is named Jesus, Yeshua. It’s hardly ever used also in Israel. In the old testament, Joshua, is used more. And Joshua was intended by God, to give us an impression, to give us an indication of this coming Yeshua. Joshua, in the Old Testament, led God’s people into the promised land. Joshua, in the Old Testament, was the one who oversaw and master minded the battles that took place, for his people on the way to and the possessing of the promised land. Joshua, was the one who ensured the distribution of the heritage to God’s people, as he led them to the promised land through the battles that unfolded. Those impressions are to come through in this name, Yeshua, Jesus. Only the promised land isn’t the area in Palestine. The battles are not with the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Jebusites. And the heritage is to be co heir with this Yeshua, of everything God is. You shall call his name Yeshua. And when God speaks to Joseph on this in Matthew 18, “the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way”, he tells him what this means, because he will save his people from their sin. This is sure. We have this for sure in our Yeshua, our Joshua, our Jesus. When God develops these pictures, these impressions to get the point across, he uses people’s lives over a long period of time. And the benefit of that all comes to us to see, he will rescue his people to a promised land in the midst of their battles. And through those battles, he will distribute the inheritance, co heirs, heirs of God and co heirs with Jesus Christ. This we have in Yeshua, you shall call his name, Yeshua. The angels made sure the name was on the gift. God so loved gift that he gave, the indescribable gift, the incomparable gift.
And the angel goes on and attaches additional names here. He says in verse 32, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” What we have for sure. He is mega, huge, large, superseding everything else, Begotten Son is what that’s referring to, the son of his Father and distinctively the Father is by name, the Most High. You know, every year about this time of the year, when I was working in the medical office of the largest medical organization in the state of Indiana, as a matter of fact, from what I understand, one of the if not the largest employer of people in the state of Indiana, every year about this time of the year, November, we would have what was called the Leadership Institute. And they would call you from all over the state, I came from Hartford City, but from all over the state to come to Indianapolis, and they would rent the Marriot downtown. And we would have this huge, huge meeting in which they would fly in some leader in business or the medical field and they would come and talk. And there was always this person there, who was the Chief Executive Officer of all of this operation, billions of dollars a year operation, I think the largest if not one of the largest in Indiana, Chief Executive Officer and chairman of the board. And these people would talk to him, the business leader or medical person that they would fly in, would talk to him, interactively and say things like this, You know, there’s just nobody above you. You just don’t have anyone who’s over you in this. And it was quite a thing, quite a thing to go through. Because they were intended to spur you and motivate you in regards to your work for this medical organization. Jesus was the son of The Most High, not in Indiana, as a matter of fact, not even in the universe, not in the galaxy, not in all of creation, on heaven, or on earth. This one, The Most High, begotten of his Father, The Most High is what he will be called, the mega, son of The Most High. There’s nothing above him, not puny Indiana, not even the universe, all of creation in heaven and earth, there is nothing above this, that’s who he will be called. The begotten one of The Most High.
Mary’s perplexed at this… favored, Yeshua, the Son of The Most High. And so the angel begins to describe what this means in verse 32 and 33. He says, “He will be great and will be called the son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father, David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob, Israel, forever, and his kingdom, his rule, there will be no end.” His enthronement, this begotten one, this one who is fully human, called the begotten one of the Most High, has this reign that never ends, it never ends. That’s what we have for sure in Jesus. And how does it operate for us? Kevin DeYoung, kind of a generation X’er, he’s a little different, and when you hear him, you can see that he speaks well to that generation. And he said this, “Ever since the first Christmas, Jesus has been more than just a name. It’s been our only comfort in life and in death, our only hope in a hopeless world”. I want you to know, many families in Kentucky today are hopeless. There’s no restoration, there is no comfort, in life or in depth. But because of Jesus, Yeshua, taking us into the Promised Land, fighting the battles, distributing the inherited, this one who is the only begotten of the Most High, there is now hope in life and in death, and in a hopeless world. This Jesus, enthroned forever, has for us a throne of grace that’s available. Hebrews 4:14 describes it very well, “Since then we have a great high priest”, over the house of God, namely Jesus, who was like us in everything and is sympathetic touched by the feelings of our infirmity, by what we go through, Hebrews 4:16, Let us then come boldly to this throne of grace, that we may find grace and mercy to help in time of need. Do you use that? Do you offer it repeatedly to other people? This is what we have for sure. This is how we use it. This is this Son of the Most High. And we can and should offer it to people. What a privilege this is.
That’s who he will be, great and called these things. “And Mary said to the angel”, Luke 1:34, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” That is not the translation of the word virgin as is used previously. What this says is, quite frankly this, since I do not know a man, that’s what she says, since I do not know a man, know as used of the biblical term of intimacy in sexual union. How can this be since I do not know a man? And that’s a present indicative active, it’s not going on now. How can this be? Is there any question about this being a virgin? I don’t think so. I think that’s clear, clear. And the angel answers, verse 35, “And the angel answered her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High, The Holy Spirit, will overshadow you.” It will be an experience in which the power of God provides the male, 23 chromosomes along with the female 23 chromosomes, he will overshadow this. “Therefore the child to be born will be called holy”, he will be called distinct, separate, different, he will be called holy, set apart, distinct, different, he will be called the Holy Son of God. That’s what he will be called. That’s what he will be called. This is what we have for sure, here.
Did anybody have any problems with the wind yesterday? I had problems with a wind yesterday, it took off my shed door and broke it. Interesting thing. I was going down to the basement when my daughter says, Look at the shed! And the door is in the wind and it’s being bent back. So, I go get on some clothes to go outside so I can put a lien on that shed door. And by the time I got out there, it had already ripped it off its hinges, bent it over and broke the wood that was in the door. It’s a sheet metal door with wood running across, and my response was not pleasant. Nothing like the wind they had in Kentucky and the devestation it caused in comparison. I also lost all the lights that I put on the house, they were up, now they’re down . You know, in the midst of this, this is what we have for sure. And we lose sight of it when the shed door hits the ground, when the winds move the lights. I don’t know, if you’re like me. But I have to bring this back to heart again. And begin to trust this and pursue this. And to go after this and a have to talk to myself and call me to repentance. Anybody else have to do that? To call yourself to repentance, to change your mind and to change your direction, because this is what we have for sure. And we use it when we access this. When we come to him, into the throne of grace. We make use of it, for ourselves and for others.
So now I want to go to scene two. Here’s Scene two, during his birthday. Turn with me over to Luke chapter two, if you would, it’s during his birthday. This is the story that I heard often when I was in school. I remember there was a teacher in our elementary schools who was all about this, every Christmas time would bring this thing out. And I remember her distinctly, I was not raised in a church that would review this, we had lots of things that we would do, kind of ritualistically around Christmas time, but we wouldn’t have reviewed this. And I remember sitting repeatedly hearing her say this and making me ponder about it. “In those days a decree went forth from Caesar Augustus”, and doesn’t that just ring for you. It rings for me, even then as she spoke about it. This was the first one, the first census when they were going to be all taxed. And Mary and Joseph go to the city of David, Bethlehem, because they’re of that lineage. And she’s with child and she brings forth her firstborn. That’s what Luke 2:7 says, “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger”, an animal feeding trough, “because there was no room for them in the inn.” Verses 8 and 9, “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch of their flocks by night. And the angel of the Lord appeared to them”. The idea here is, they overshadowed them, and it was kind of imposed on them. “And the glory of the Lord”, the brilliance, the splendor of this, “shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.” Verse 10, “And the angel said to them, Fear not”, it’s the same thing that Mary and Joseph had, there is fear. And the angel replaced the fear with Jesus and the angel here said, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that would be for all the people.” Verse 11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior.” This is what he called, Jesus is called a savior here, when he’s first announced, a savior, rescuer, deliver, protector, just like, just like Yeshua was.
And you know, this comes home to a person when they reflect on it. In John chapter four, verse 42, the woman at the well, she was a Samaritan from Sumeria. And Jesus intentionally goes into her life, comes across her path, engages her in a conversation. He intentionally talks to her about her life, the experience she was having in a hopeless world. And he speaks to her about being this one of God, who she knew was going to come into the world. And she goes back and tell some of her associates in the city, so much so that the news spreads all over this city. And this whole city, as the Bible depicts, it comes out to him. And in John chapter four, verse 42, the people say, We don’t believe that he is this Messiah because of what you say. It’s because now we have heard it for ourselves. And we know that He is the Savior of the world. That’s the way the Savior of the world thing has to happen. I come to realize and to know, in my experience, that he is the rescuer. He is the deliverer, the protector, this Yeshua. He is, he is.
You know, there are a lot of things that go on at Christmas time. A lot of parties, a lot of events, a lot of get togethers. And you know, a lot of the people that go to those parties don’t even realize that he is the Savior of the world. So why don’t we do this, why don’t we refer to Christmas as the birth of the Savior. It’s the birth of the Savior, the rescuer. Oh, we’re going to go and have a Christmas party. And it’s about the birth of the Savior, the rescuer. Why don’t we just introduced that into our conversation, because there’s going to be lots of Christmas conversation that goes on. It’s the birth of the Savior, who is the Christ, the Anointed One. The angel says, It’s the Savior of the world, a realization we have to come to, who is the Christ, the Anointed One, the Old Testament Messiah, who is the Lord. He is the master. He’s the director. He’s the controller of it. And you know one day, the Bible tells us, that every knee will bend, every tongue will confess to the glory of God the Father, the Most High, that Jesus Christ is Lord. They will, they will, they will.
You know, the significance of this was brought home to me by a person who I’m familiar with, had known pretty well, not personally but through the things that he wrote, his name was James Montgomery Boice. He was a pastor and he was found to have a form of cancer that rapidly progressed. And he was only one time more in his pulpit at 10th Avenue Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And when he was there, he spoke in a very weakened condition just one more time after the diagnosis of this. And he said, I know many of you are praying for me to be healed. And I’m good with that if that’s what God chooses to do, and I appreciate that. But he said, even if he doesn’t, we will say approving that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, that he’s the one that’s in charge. He’s the boss. He’s the director. He’s the master. We will. And you know, the wonderful thing is, believers can do it now. We do it now. Oh, it may take us a while to get there, especially if your shed door lands up on the ground in the midst of a windstorm. But we get there. We get there. That’s the wonder of this. Every knee will. Every tongue will. And suddenly, when he said that there was with this angel, a multitude of Heavenly Host, praising God and saying glory to God, in the highest and on earth, peace among people with whom he is well pleased. There is this, this chorus of heaven going on. Glory, this is Glory to God in the highest.
And now we come to the last scene. It is after, after his birth and it is to his disciples, for the future, for the future hope, for the future confident anticipation of the future. We need that. As (a member of our fellowship) mentioned this morning, he’s got that. That’s encouraging to hear, encouraging. We all need that confident anticipation. Turn with me to the book of Acts, which Luke also wrote. And it was the second volume, if you would, of Luke’s account of the life of Jesus Christ. This one is about his followers. It’s all that Jesus began to do and to teach and Acts is about what he continues to do and to teach. And in here, we have the record of Jesus last times on earth with his followers. He had told them to go to Jerusalem and to wait there. They asked him a question here, Are you going to set up your kingdom now? This kingdom was promised to be forever. He answers in verse seven, Acts chapter one, “He said to them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Like it came upon Mary, like it hovered over the unformed, unfilled earth. The Holy Spirit comes upon, “and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” You will talk about it, about a savior being born. “And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” And while they were staring there into the sky, “while they were gazing into heaven”, starting in verse 10, “as he went, behold, two men, angel, stood by them in white robes, and said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus”, this very Jesus, this same Jesus, “who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go to heaven.” Here’s the hope for the future. Here it is. This Jesus will set again his foot on the Mount of Olives. Zachariah, chapter 14…if you have never read Zachariah 14, or if you haven’t read it recently, you need to do it now around Christmas time, you need to see this because it describes this returning of Jesus, when Jerusalem is in trouble. He comes and he takes up for God’s people. Revelation chapter nine, verses nine through 16, point out the details of this coming and who it is that’s on that throne. And you know, it’s this same Jesus and the promise that the Lord made, that he knows the plans that He has for you, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and to hope. That’s what you and I now know too, in this Jesus, the Son of the Most High, the Holy Son of God, this Jesus, Savior, Christ the Lord, this same Jesus.
Father, we thank you, for the angelic refrain, Glory to God in the highest. We thank you that this gift was not left without a name, but was very clearly named as to what this is for us and what we do to use it. For unto us a child is born, a son is given and it’s all on his shoulders. A savior, who is Christ the Lord. It’s in his name I pray, Amen.