Meditation and Devotional from David Niednagel, Pastor/Teacher, Evansville, IN. (David uses the S.O.A.P. method for his morning devotional: study, observe, apply, pray. (Friends: David’s recent morning study has been to focus on passages in the Bible that proclaimed that God would establish His King and Kingdom in the earth. That God would send a Messiah. Jesus is that promised Messiah.)
Celebration or Worship?
Luke 2; Matthew 2:1; Hebrews 1:6
Luke 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” … “20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, … 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: …
30 … my eyes have seen your salvation, … 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” … 36 There was also a prophet, Anna, … She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Matt. 2:1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Heb. 1:6 “… when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”
When we think of Christmas, we primarily think of celebration – decorations, gifts, feasting. All good! And it is great to celebrate Jesus and His birth at Christmas. But these passages have a different emphasis – Angels, shepherds, Simeon, Anna, Magi all worshiped Him. They bowed, they praised, they gave God glory, they gave Him gifts (not each other). Why? Because the long promised and long awaited Messiah/Savior finally came. It was great joy for all the people! The announcement of His coming was good news for everyone! Everyone needs forgiveness and salvation! It is the most important gift anyone could receive because it determines our whole eternity, and it is better than any gift of health, wealth, comfort, etc. Whoever would give such a costly gift deserves WORSHIP. And no one else could give it. So it is easy to conclude that grateful worship, whether words, songs, service or love, is 100% appropriate from 100% of those who hear about it.
And it is not just a good idea to worship Jesus, but God commanded the angels to worship Him – and they don’t receive the benefits of salvation like we do. Jehovah’s Witnesses make a major command not to celebrate Christmas or worship Jesus, because that is reserved for God alone. But this Hebrews passage shows clearly that God commanded the angels to worship Jesus, and we know from Jn 1, and Col 1 that Jesus is the true Creator God.
BTW – We do “worship” what impresses us most. We stand and cheer wildly for sports teams, entertainers and celebrities. We devote time and money to hobbies and causes we desire. It is natural! So if we don’t worship Jesus, it is because we haven’t reflected on Who He is and what He actually did. At least not recently. When we first get married we express praise and devotion to our beloved, but as time goes on we tend to take them for granted. But if we continue to think about their character and life, we will continue to express thanks, praise and devotion to them, even though they are not perfect.
Worthy LORD, I gladly worship You as my Creator and Savior! There is no other person or God who could create or save us. You deserve all my loyalty, gratitude, love, and service, and I want to be faithful to give it to You always. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight – may they be appropriate to Your greatness and bring You pleasure – O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Ps 19:14) Amen.