Sermon: “Glory to God in the Highest!” (Luke 2:8–20)
From all that we have read about Jesus so far in the book of Luke, we may safely draw two conclusions. First, Jesus is glorious. Two miraculous births mark his entry into the world, and the chief function of the other child will be to prepare the way as Jesus’ forerunner. Jesus will not only be a great one, but the great one in God’s redemptive plan as the heir to the throne of David and the holy Son of God. Second, however, Jesus’ glory is veiled. Gabriel announced the coming birth of Jesus to an unknown Jewish girl living in an unknown place. She was so insignificant in the eyes of the world that she could not even find a proper place to give birth to Jesus. Upon birth, her blessed son received only a manger for his bed. Luke, therefore, draws our attention to both the great glory of Jesus and to how concealed that glory is from public perception.
Why must there be such a contrast? Why must such great glory be hidden? What is God’s purpose in veiling the glory of Jesus in this way? Later in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus himself states, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will” (Luke 10:21). Jesus’ words suggest that God isn’t hiding the glory of Christ altogether; rather, he is hiding the glory of Christ from the types of investigation characterized by human pride. If we wish to see the glory of Christ, we must seek him with the humble faith of little children. In Luke 2:8–20, this principle becomes clear in the way God announces the birth of Jesus to shepherds. Here, we see that Jesus reveals ever-increasingly more of his veiled glory by his word and through faith.
Note from Pastor Gerber: While I cited a source in the written sermon notes that I distributed on the day of this sermon, I neglected to do so in the actual sermon in a comment recorded at minute marker 27:34. Please forgive the oversight, and please let me correct that! In reference to Luke 2:18, I am referring to what Darrell Bock writes in his commentary on Luke: “The report tickles the crowd’s ears, but it may have missed their hearts.” (Darrell L. Bock, Luke, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, vol. 1: 1:1–9:50 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1994), p. 222).