"Even angels long to look into these things" (1 Peter 1:12).
I can remember the first time I went to Six Flags over Texas as a little kid. I had heard about the rides, but I was simply unprepared for how cool it was for a little kid. Some of the stuff that seems so hokey to me today felt so real and exciting as a 6 or 7 year old.
As the day progressed, however, I heard the words that haunted me every time I waited in line for a ride I had heard was really cool. "You may be too short to ride this ride." I know the folks helping in the line queue were trying to keep me from being disappointed after standing in line "forever" before finding out that I was too short to ride. Back in those days, right before you entered the key area to get on the ride, they had a sign that had a mark on it. If you were not as tall as the mark, you didn't get to ride. No exceptions! No begging worked!
So every time I got close, I tried to make myself as tall as possible. I straightened my back and stretched as tall as I could stretch. I even tried to stand on tiptoe in my shoes as they measured me. I wanted to ride the ride and experience the thrill! Most of the time it worked!
The coming of the Christ, the promised Messiah of the Old Testament prophets, was something anticipated. God-seekers in Jesus' day prayed for the Messiah's coming. But more than just human anticipation, the angels of heaven stood on tiptoe trying to see over the edge of hope's horizon and figure out the time of the Messiah's arrival. They wanted to ride the ride and experience the thrill of God's greatest intervention into human history. And it's no wonder that this was true. They had a lot to do when Jesus came! Luke uses the word "angel" no less than 15 times in his two chapters that focus on the birth of Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah God had promised to send.
Some people make it sound like there was an angel mentioned in every chapter of the Bible. While there is much said about angels in the Bible, angels are most noticeable and most important in God's story at the great deliverance moments of His work in human history. So when Luke shares the story of Jesus' birth, and he makes sure we see all the work of angels, then we had better pay attention! We are to realize that God is up to amazing things! If the angels were on tiptoe waiting for this time in history, we had better be on tiptoe with amazement as we remember it.
God enters human history, in a human body, born to Joseph and Mary as Jesus of Nazareth. The Lord's coming to earth is declared, accompanied, protected, proclaimed, and praised by angels! God has not only kept His promises made long ago, but He has emphatically declared "Yes and amen!" to our salvation because of Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:18-20). God is fully revealing Himself in human flesh (John 1:14-18). Jesus will be God's fullest and most complete message about Himself (Hebrews 1:1-3). This birth of "Christ our Lord" is so important, we are told that all Scripture finds it's saving center in Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15).
So more than getting caught up in the sentimentality of the season, or getting distracted by the pressure and pull of the season, let's join the angels on tiptoe. Let's gaze in wide-eyed amazement at what God is doing. Let's open the eyes of our heart and see Jesus' birth for what it is: a time of joy, wonder, and worship. Let's stand on tiptoe so we can ride the ride of God's grace and experience the thrill of God's seeking love that comes to us, declared by angels who were finally going to see God's glory come to earth.
Luke seems to be wanting us to see the angels in the stories related to Jesus' birth ...
- To say this is important, pay attention!
- To help us realize God is at work in His great work of deliverance!
- To amaze us with His love!
What do you most need to see in the birth of Jesus? Why?
What do all the appearances of angels in the story of Jesus birth mean to you?
I'd love to hear from you on my blog — and there is also a free graphic for you to download as well!