logo

sign-up-for-free-cybersalt-today-button

A Picture of Highest Glory

I was thinking about synonyms this week, not the cinnamon that you find in sticky buns, but the synonym you find in tricky phrases. Synonyms point us to the source of something, they amplify, they color in the character and take us deeper. Put together they can sound like this?

His name was short, brief, an essence,

A heart, a passion, a loving presence,

I knew in an instant, quickly, right now,

All to be cherished, treasured and held.

Ever since God spoke and said, ?Let there be light?, words have directly shaped our understanding and our very life, even for all eternity. The ideas of God's mind often come to us as words and are the purest expressions of being, known to us. It is no coincidence to think that of all the phrases God could have used to describe Jesus Christ, He picked, ?In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.?, John 1:1. As you read the Christmas story there will be account after account of angels coming as messengers from God and the words they bring have been crafted by the very . . .

I was thinking about synonyms this week, not the cinnamon that you find in sticky buns, but the synonym you find in tricky phrases. Synonyms point us to the source of something, they amplify, they color in the character and take us deeper. Put together they can sound like this?

His name was short, brief, an essence,

A heart, a passion, a loving presence,

I knew in an instant, quickly, right now,

All to be cherished, treasured and held.

Ever since God spoke and said, ?Let there be light?, words have directly shaped our understanding and our very life, even for all eternity. The ideas of God's mind often come to us as words and are the purest expressions of being, known to us. It is no coincidence to think that of all the phrases God could have used to describe Jesus Christ, He picked, ?In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.?, John 1:1. As you read the Christmas story there will be account after account of angels coming as messengers from God and the words they bring have been crafted by the very mind of God. Their words are rich in synonyms that serve to amplify the incredible news of the incarnation. Let's look at an example of this and see what it is that is being said this Christmas morning. Turn to Luke 2, verses 8 to 14.

I. He's the Good News of a Great Joy.

The shepherds had never seen anything like this, an angel and the intensity of the light that poured out around him filled them with a sense of apocalyptic dread. The glory of the Lord shone around them, this is more than just a nice glowing night light, it encompassed them with that which belonged to God, the radiance of the Father's glory was with this angel and with that which he was about to proclaim. Have you ever been the first one to hear good news, perhaps you were the first to hear a birth announcement, perhaps you were the first to hear that someone you'd been waiting for had just arrived, you were the first person to hear that the war was over, the first to hear that you'd received a very great inheritance. In the shepherds case they were the first to hear this good news and it was for all the people. What a privilege, the first to hear and share the good news. In God's providence He had again chosen shepherds to be His heralds. As shepherds like Moses and David had been chosen, these were now chosen to bring the good news of the greatest release from captivity, overcoming their greatest enemy and it was a great joy. This first synonym of Who Jesus is certainly points to what Jesus will do one day in terms of redemption but it speaks in a present tense. In other words there is someone who is presently experiencing great joy. We could conclude it was Mary and Joseph and even Jesus as an infant but I think the great joy refers primarily to God the Father's great joy. What is it that absolutely fills God with joy, for that truly is great joy isn't it? What fills God with joy is the absolute perfection in intimacy, character, ability and will that is His living reflection, Jesus Christ. God the Father has loved Jesus from before the creation of the world, His great joy is now being unwrapped before humanity. The great joy then is not so much what Jesus will do in redemption but rather Who He is, Almighty God, The Righteous One in whom the Father is well pleased. When you think of God do you perceive Him as being a happy and joy-filled Person? The joy of God in Christ Jesus emanates around all heaven and over all creation. ?Joyful, Joyful, we adore Thee??, where do you think that comes from? It is the great joy, the good news of a great joy that God has which now is upon us, and for us and in us. Jesus is the great joy of the Father, given to all people.

II. He is an Arrived Savior, an Appointed Christ, But Always Lord.

One of the wonders of how Jesus? shapes our character into a likeness of His is the way calls us to humility. He constantly invites us to seek the lost, to be His appointed representatives, to be humble enough to be sent to do a task and in obedience, go. This in fact reflects Who He is, He was sent and in humility obeyed. Do you get the contradiction of that, God was sent, Almighty moved to humility, Omnipotence moved to obedience. It has such a striking surprise that the angel said this is the sign of the great contradiction, ?a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger?. Many of you here are mothers and dads, you have wrapped the blankets around your child and tucked them in tight, their arms snug to their sides. The swaddling cloths, likely strips of cloth torn from Joseph's coat, bundled up Jesus so that He couldn't move. Then you think of Job 38:4,8 when this same Lord had said to Job, ?Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Or who enclosed the sea with doors, when bursting forth, it went out from the womb; when I made a cloud its garment and thick darkness it's swaddling cloth?? Do you see the binding of majesty into humanity, do you see Almighty humility moving in obedience, a sign that shepherds couldn't miss? This is the savior who is born for you, the good news of a great joy, a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord.

III. God's Highest Glory, His peace on Earth Causing Will to Good in Man.

It's strange the words that can catch your attention as you read the Christmas story, for instance the words that begin verse 13, ?And suddenly??. From the shepherds viewpoint it meant where there was just one angel quietly addressing them, now there were a multitude praising God. But why 'suddenly?, especially if you seek to see it from the angels viewpoint. What was it that could no longer be held back, what was overflowing in heaven? Don't forget these angels have worked alongside of and been close to the Son of God for at least 4000 years of time. Do they know the deity of Jesus, do they know the righteousness of Jesus, the power He holds, the Person He is as to love, wisdom and integrity? Oh yes, and now they see Him as never before, as it were in perfect disguise, and their amazement at the plan of God overflows in heaven! Listen for the synonyms of Jesus that pour out of their mouths.

1. Highest glory to God? What is highest glory but an ascribing to God of Perfection, Perfection, Perfection. Perfect wisdom, for who could have thought of such a way. Perfect love, for who would have offered such a way. Perfect in power, for who else could have accomplished redemption in such a way as this? Jesus Christ is God's highest glory, reflecting, perfectly, Him.

2. On Earth, Peace? Who is it that has just arrived on earth? Jesus. The Prince of Peace has arrived to effect peace between man and God, to put an end to sin, to end death by entering death and satisfying it's demands for righteousness from the inside out. On earth now is God's Peace, and the angels cannot contain their praise.

3. Goodwill in men? I changed the wording slightly to, ?Causing Will to Good in Men?, to emphasize the outcome. What causes our wills to move towards good, especially highest good? Jesus is the embodiment of Good Will Among men, it is He who draws us through our faith, who transforms us by the renewing of our minds and the making alive of our spirits that we begin to know highest good. It is He who by the Holy Spirit indwells us and among men there is good will between man and God and man and man.

The good news of a great joy, the Savior, Christ, the Lord, God's highest Glory, His Peace on earth, His Will to good in man... these are the synonyms of Christ Jesus this Christmas morning, words that filled the mouths of angels in praise to God.

Rev. Spence Laycock pastors at Church of the Open Bible, Ponoka, Alberta, Canada.
www.churchoftheopenbible.ab.ca