Christmas…the story of what pleases God

The Nativity account in Luke chapters 1 and 2 has always captured my fancy, much in the same fashion as a bride walking down the aisle captures the interest and affections of her waiting groom. The interest is not merely passing! The gazing eye wishes to capture every detail, searing the fullness of the image into the memory so as to never forget. That is indeed the Christmas story for me.

I will never tire of reading the verses and studying its truths. Quite possibly my favorite scene in the developing narrative is that of the shepherds. One of the details which is often quickly passed over (possibly thru familiarity) is found in the heart of the interaction between the lowly shepherds and the glorious, heavenly messengers sent by God to them.

 Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

Luke 2:14

What is it, really, that pleases God in the Christmas story? It is a question we must wrestle with. The answer to that question must find a home in our hearts and minds, giving life to our daily pursuits and purposes. So, with what is God so pleased that He was compelled to send a host of angels to tell a group of humble shepherds out in a field?

The answer is definitely NOT humanity. What God was doing on that first Christmas Night was obviously directed at and for the good of humanity but it was not because humanity pleased Him. That God would be “pleased” with humanity, sinful and evil humanity, would be the same as a parent looking with pleasure upon their hellion children running amok in Walmart, creating strife and destruction in whatever aisle they found themselves in. No, most certainly not people. We aren’t pleasing to God; we are loved by God (Ephesians 2:4-7). His love for us makes what He did at Christmas pleasing for Him.

So, let me ask again, what was and is so pleasing to God? In short…

It pleased God…

*to initiate and offer peace

*to extend favor

*to send the Savior

…to sinful and rebellious humanity.

Additionally, God was pleased…

*to leave heaven

*to take on human flesh

* to be with us

…so that He could save us.

Paul further develops this in his letter to the Colossians.

“For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross…” (Colossians 1:19-20)

Dane Ortlund says it well in chapter 2 of his book, “Gentle and Lowly” when he writes, “The cumulative testimony of the four Gospels is that when Jesus Christ sees the fallenness of the world all about Him, His deepest impulse, His most natural instinct, is to move toward that sin and suffering, not away from it.” Later, in the same chapter, he continues, “Pity flooded His heart, the longing of true compassion.”

God’s pleasure at Christmas is wrapped up in the pleasure He takes in bringing salvation to sinful humanity; which leads me to the next logical question: Do I find pleasurable that which God does?

First and foremost, do I find pleasure in God’s offer of peace through Christ and welcome His extension of grace for my sin, or do I find that thought irrelevant at a minimum or at the worst, dramatically offensive?

The first leads to the second: Do I find pleasure in engaging people with the love, grace, and mercy of God the way He has engaged me? Do I, like Jesus, have an impulse toward the fallen, with a heart filled with the pity of true compassion fueled by the humility of one who needs it as much as anyone?

The Christmas story, the story of the birth of Jesus, is immensely pleasurable, but none of it is more pleasurable than the pleasure God has in bringing it to bear upon us. I pray you will find pleasure this Christmas in what brings God eternal pleasure.

Merry Christmas!

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