I’ve always wondered about heaven’s reaction when Jesus was born. What was the Father thinking? Did He look over at Jesus’ empty throne? Were the angels rejoicing? Or were they silent with wonder? The Bible doesn’t tell us specifically, but we do have a small clue.
“Even angels long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:12). The word Peter used for “look” means “to bend over to look intently.” Can you picture it with me – tens of thousands of angels bending over the edge of heaven to gaze upon the Son of God in human flesh? The One who, with the Father and the Spirit, created the first human being had now become one of them. The omnipotent was now a helpless infant, subject to cold and hunger and pain. The One who provided all men with all things now needed a young woman to provide for Him. He who called the light forth now squinted His eyes at the brightness of Joseph’s lantern. He had spoken the animals into being; now they were His only companions at His birth.
No doubt the celestial beings marveled at the sight before them, but they were particularly in awe for the purpose of it all. They had always known that God is complete love, they had experienced that love for themselves. But grace. Grace was something foreign to them. These earthly creatures had rejected and abandoned their Creator; they deserved destruction. But God offered forgiveness and even more – was willing to accept these rebellious humans as His own beloved children. How could it be that the Sovereign Lord God Almighty sent His One and Only Son to pay the penalty for humanity’s sin? To the heavenly beings, it was extraordinary. They recognized the greatness of God’s offer – even if the recipients of it did not. Peter said the angels “eagerly desired” to know this amazing grace. But it is a gift only human beings can receive.
This Christmas Day, Beloved, as you unwrap presents and embrace loved ones, consider with fresh eyes the gift of God’s grace. From heaven brought down to earth, it is, in fact, the true heart of Christmas.