Call To Worship December 22 2019
Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke by J.C. Ryle
“Let us mark, fourthly — the hymn of praise which the heavenly host sang in the hearing of the shepherds. They said, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men.’
These famous words are variously interpreted. Man is by nature so dull in spiritual things, that it seems as if he cannot understand a sentence of heavenly language when he hears it. Yet a meaning may be drawn from the words which is free from any objection, and is not only good sense, but excellent theology. ‘Glory to God in the highest!’ the song begins. Now the highest degree of glory to God has come — by the appearing of His Son Jesus Christ in the world. He by His life and death on the cross will glorify God’s attributes — justice, holiness, mercy, and wisdom — as they never were glorified before. Creation glorified God — but not so much as redemption.
‘Peace on earth!’ the song goes on. Now the peace of God which surpasses all understanding has come to earth — the perfect peace between a holy God and sinful man, which Christ was to purchase with His own blood — the peace which is offered freely to all mankind — the peace which, once admitted into the heart, makes men live at peace one with another, and will one day overspread the whole world.
‘Good will towards men!’ the song concludes. Now the time has come when God’s kindness and good will towards guilty man is to be fully made known. His power was seen in creation. His justice was seen in the flood. But His mercy remained to be fully revealed by the appearing and atonement of Jesus Christ!
Such was the message of the angels’ song. Happy are those who can enter into its meaning — and with their hearts subscribe to its contents. The man who hopes to dwell in Heaven — should have some experimental acquaintance with the language of its inhabitants.
Let us mark, before we leave the passage–the prompt obedience to the heavenly vision displayed by the shepherds. We see in them no doubts, or questionings, or hesitation. Strange and improbable as the tidings might seem — they at once act upon them. They went to Bethlehem in haste. They found everything exactly as it had been told to them. Their simple faith received a rich reward. They had the mighty privilege of being the first of all mankind, after Mary and Joseph — who saw the new-born Messiah with believing eyes! They soon returned, ‘glorifying and praising God’ for what they had seen.
May our spirit be like theirs! May we ever believe implicitly, act promptly, and wait for nothing — when the path of duty is clear! So doing, we shall have a reward like that of the shepherds. The journey that is begun in faith — will generally end in praise.” (J.C. Ryle, Luke, vol. 1, Banner of Truth: 2012, pg. 45-46)