Advent 2016: Christ Was Born For This: Day 29

Glory to God in the Highest


Today's Text: Luke 2:8-21

Text: Luke 2:8-21

Theirs was a thankless job, devoid of all glory.

They spent all their time in the fields, doing the dirty work of watching the flocks and keeping the sheep. Some of the lambs were special—set apart for sacrifice. And though the shepherds would keep those consecrated lambs safe and clean until their time came, the men themselves were considered perpetually unclean, unable to keep ceremonial law and unfit to be in the presence of the people, much less the priest. They lived on the margins, literally and figuratively.

You can imagine their surprise when the angel of the Lord appeared. And not just surprise, but terror. Surely this was bad news.

But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”
- Luke 2:10-12

No, this was not bad news. This was good news—life-changing, world-changing, eternity-changing news. A Savior had been born! For them. For the unclean, the outsider, the marginalized and misunderstood. 

These men, so despised and distrusted in their culture that their testimony was not even admissible in a court of law, were called to bear first witness to the birth of Christ.

This was indeed good news for the shepherds. This is indeed good news for us.

A Savior is born for you today. You, the sinner. You on the margins. You, the one who cannot bridge the gap between yourself and God. You, the forgotten, the heartbroken, the empty, the angry. You, who is incapable of producing true and lasting peace in your own heart. Christ is born for YOU.

John describes it in his Gospel this way: “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us” (John 1:14). The phrase “took up residence” is the Greek word skēnoō, which means “tabernacled.” God was coming to live, to dwell, to “tabernacle” with His people. This is the same God with whom Moses pleaded, “Please, let me see Your glory.” And God replied, “You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live” (Exodus 33:18,20). This is why Moses built a tabernacle in the wilderness: so that God’s presence could dwell among the people without utterly consuming them.

John continues, “We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus Christ is the fullness of God’s glory made seeable, touchable, accessible to us. As pastor and theologian Tim Keller explains, “the un-scalable majesty of God and the transcendent holiness of God has become a baby.”

The fiery holiness of God is made flesh and has come to live—to make His holy dwelling place—here with us, the sinners He has come to save.

After the angel of the Lord made his announcement to the shepherds that night, Luke tells us this happened:

“Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!”
- Luke 2:13-14

“Host” here is the Greek word stratia, meaning “army.” An actual army of heavenly beings filled the sky, not to wage war but to proclaim peace. Peace in the hearts of men, women, and children, who make the Savior in a manger the Lord of their lives (John 14:27). Peace in the hearts of nations as they submit to the King of kings (Psalm 86:9).

The shepherds did not waste any time. Once they saw the Christ Child’s glory displayed in the song of the heavenly host, they went to Him. And when they saw the child Himself, swaddled in cloths like their sacrificial lambs, they worshiped (Luke 2:15,20).

Let’s follow the shepherds to the manger today.

May our hearts pause to hear the worship of the heavenly host as they declare the good news. May we run to the Savior, the Lamb of God, who wrapped Himself in flesh and made His tabernacle among us. And may our response be worship, this Christmas Day and every day.

Fall on your knees!
O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!


  • Dawn bird

    The shepherds of this time were not outcasts of society. They were considered unclean by law by the Pharisees. They were blue collar workers but were not necessarily shunned during this time as previous history suggested in Jewish law.

  • Nicolette

    I’m reading this one a little late, but it still brings me to tears reading about the beauty and mystery of that night, angels, shepherds, and an ordinary baby with a magnificent purpose. Praise the Lord, our Savior did come and did accomplish salvation for us!!

  • Marilyn

    The angel came to tell the shepherds, the keepers of sheep, that the lamb of God had come and that He would be their Shepherd.

  • Jesus you came! O come let us adore him today!

  • These verses remind me of a Christmas Carol I love ” the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight” from Oh Little Town of Bethlehem. He gave us this endless gift of freedom from hate,fromslavery, from family disunity. I am unwrapping His gift of love today over all my family, my community and our world.
    He will do for us all we believe Him to do. Thank you for thiswonderful study, its been such a blessing,so timely.

  • Jess Gardiner

    He came for the marginalised, the unclean, the outsider, the misunderstood: those the world gives up on and forgets about. And we, as His disciples, are called to do the same. Reaching those our culture shuns amd despises with the patience, genuine love, and compassion of Christ- sharing with them the message of salvation that is for THEM!

  • Merry Christmas guys!!!

  • Merry Christmas sisters-in-Christ!! Thank you SRT for this beautiful study!!

  • Sarah D.

    Merry Christmas friends! So thankful for this community! <3

  • Thanks be to God for the shepherds who were able to recognize and worship the one true lamb! My prayer is that I can know God wherever I meet him. Blessings to all of the she’s who read truth on this glorious Christmas morning!!!

  • I had no idea that the shepherds were considered unclean. What a wonderful gift God gave to them; the lowest able to see that which came from the Highest first.
    Merry Christmas everyone!

  • Merry Christmas to all of you this morning! I so enjoyed to be part of this study with all of you and learning from you. All of you at SRT and sisters have been such a blessing to my life this season!

  • This was so beautiful! Merry Christmas all! So thankful for a Savior that came so simply, yet profoundly into our lives for the “unclean, the outsider, marginalized, and misunderstood”, for you,for me, for all. Beyond words!

  • Melissa

    Merry Christmas SRT sisters!! blessed to journey through the Word with you all.

  • Cecilia

    Beautiful devotion this morning, soaking it in! Glory in the highest. Oh I am so in need of saving, I am so weary, so tired of falling into the devil’s trap…. I am so thankful for Jesus. He brings grace, mercy, truth, light & life. He is for me, for you and everyone. As I am going through a valley, a tough season….I keep my eyes on him. This study has been such a blessing as are each if you, SRT sisters. Merry Christmas!!!

  • Ugh. That should have been 400 years of silence are over.

  • Skigranny1

    Thank you SRT for taking time this beautiful Christmas morning to continue to encourage and enlighten us. What a blessing this study has been! I never thought of an actual army of heavenly beings filling the sky – Wow! Our God is so amazing…….to give up everything He had to become a vulnerable baby. How can we ever comprehend that love. Merry Christmas everyone!

  • Terry Mitchum

    It occurs to me that God didn’t waste one detail in this glorious story. As we’ve read throughout this whole Advent series, the metaphors are rich and abundant. PROPHET. PRIEST. KING. The 400 years of silence is over. The angels fill the sky in song. And the shepherds rush to see the true LAMB of GOD born in the muck of a stable to save us mucky people. Wonder of wonders.
    Thank you SRT staff and writers for leading us through this Advent with truth about the Word of God made flesh to forever tabernacle with us.

  • churchmouse

    The shepherds were doing what they always do – “keeping watch.” They did not anticipate that this night they would meet the Good Shepherd. I live an ordinary life too. Yet you SRT, and all who faithfully gather here in this community, help me to keep watch and see our Lord. Every day. In His Word. This is a humbling and priceless gift. Thank you. Thank you. Praying that God would abundantly bless you all as you all have abundantly blessed me. Take off your shoes, dear sisters. This place is holy ground.

  • Merry Christmas SRT sisters! I’m so thankful I found you in time for this amazing study, and I cannot wait to go into the New Year with this beautiful community at my side. I’ve never felt closer to Him at Christmas than I do this year. May God bless you all this Christmas Day, near and far.

  • churchmouse


  • Merry Christmas SRT Sisters. Wishing you God’s richest and most humble blessings throughout the season and into the New Year!
    At the mention of His name may we all bow in worship!
    Love you all.

  • Merry Christmas to all! This study has been such a blessing…glory to God and our precious Savior!

  • Merry Christmas to all!!! If I may, I would want to share what I have been going through these past few weeks.

    As a high school student, I am exposed to a lot of stress academically. On top of that, I have been struggling with family issues, and with my relationships with my friends. I have been bottling up all the anger, stress, sadness, and anxiety. It came to a point wherein I asked myself, “Where is God?” It felt as if I was battling all these trials alone and defenseless. I wanted to give up and spend Christmas down and sorrowful.

    Every Christmas, we remember the Savior that was given for all of us so that we may be free from all guilt and condemnation: We will never be alone. Jesus came down, humbled Himself, and accepted us wholly. He came to save, heal, and deliver.

    After everything I have been through, God was, is, and will always be good. It may not go my way, but His will be done in my life. His plans for you and I are greater than we could ever imagine, as long as we trust in Him. He made a way, for us sinners so that we may live a life free from shame. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Merry Christmas once again!

    • Susan Martin

      Claui, I lift you up before our gracious Father and ask him to fill you with His Peace. Know that you are deeply loved. I also want to share a “Welcoming Prayer” that has helped me in times of stress and sadness; when I feel no comfort or hope. When I take a moment to breathe and welcome Jesus into my moment of stress, it calms me a and fills me with hope. May it bring blessing to your life too. Here is the link that explains the prayer: Christmas Blessings to you, Claui.

    • Abby

      Amen! May we always remember and rest in the truth that God works all things for our good and His glory.

    • Sarah D.

      Also a high schooler! Woop woop! As a senior, I’m definiteky still learning to trust in God and to give him control in everything. It’s hard, but I know it’s worth it. He does everything for our good. He uses the pain, confusion, and doubt to bring about His perfect plan for our lives. So thankful for Jesus who came to dwell and pitch His tent in our sinful world and hearts. Merry Christmas friend!

  • Merry Christmas SRT Sisters. May our Lord bless each and every one.

  • I am so thankful that the Lord was willing to send His Son here to save us! So thankful that Jesus pursues us, even in our sin! So thankful that Jesus did come, but not for the righteous or perfect, but for the lowly and those who are more than unworthy. Merry Christmas!!

  • Precious, precious words regarding our God and Savior. I am in awe this morning, thinking of the night sky filled with an army of angels. What an amazing image to imagine. Can you imagine what kind of peace and hope and wonderment filled that stable following the Christ’s birth? I am overcome with amazement and thankfulness this morning. Bless the Lord and bless each of you my sisters. Merry Christmas!

  • Mercy Me

    Merry Christmas to my SRT sisters!

  • Merry Christmas!!! Our Savior is here! What a wonderful gift.

  • Today a weary world rejoices just like that night so long ago. May we fall on our knees to hear the angel voices. What a night! What a day! Merry Christmas SRT sisters! Y’all are beyond a blessing to me every day!

  • We are so very blessed, aren’t we? Merry Christmas, sisters!

  • Merry Christmas to each of you and true peace!

  • Merry Christmas all! I am looking forward to spending the new year in study with all of you. I received from my future daughter-in-law a new journaling Bible, pens, and a study of John – no coincidence that that is what we study next!! Enjoy this Christmas Day! Love, joy and peace!

  • Wow! Amanda Bible Williams! Amazing commentary! Thank you!

  • Christina

    Beautiful words to read this Christmas morning! God’s fierce holiness descending to us, being made known to the lowliest of the lowly. God sees us common, lowly folks and He knows us, loves us. He took the lineage of Jesus out of a shepherd-turned-king, and then He presented His glory to shepherds.

    My last thought: what was Mary pondering? Maybe the meaning of the angel Gabriel’s words, and now the excited announcement of the shepherds. Was her new mother’s joy tinged just a bit by the fear and uncertainty of what her Son’s greatness would mean for His life? While I don’t always embrace the One who holds the unknown, I’m so thankful that the Author of life sent His Word to redeem every unknown we face. His promise is fulfilled. He remains faithful, even in all of these little things of life. Merry Christmas!

  • “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” Colossians 1:19 Glory to God! Thank you for this miracle! Merry Christmas to all!

    • Emily

      I love the reminder in that verse. Thanks for sharing and Mary Christmas!

    • Emily

      It’s so true that the Savior came from the line of a shepherd turned king – David! How fitting that the angels visit the shepherds. Thanks for your beautiful words. Merry Christmas, friends!!

  • Merry Christmas friends!

  • Glory to God!! Merry Christmas!

  • Glory to God indeed. Let us worship Him, receive the gift of life that He is, and carry the good news to others. Happy Christmas to you all.

  • Merry Christmas to you all!!

  • …And peace to His people on earth..

    Merry Christmas!

    Peace be with you…

  • Have joyful, peaceful and blessed Christmas Day!

  • Merry Christmas to you all!

  • Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! Glory to God in the highest!

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