7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.
When God came down to the mountain to give Moses the law, the Israelites were terrified by how mighty all God's works were. The mountain shook, there was thunder and lightning and smoke, and the people could not even touch or come close to the mountain. This was just the glory surrounding the arrival, the announcement of the coming First Covenant.
The arrival of Jesus, the coming of the Second Covenant, was different. Instead of coming down in fire and cloud on a mountain, God came as an infant. He arrived not among grand expectation, but in a stable and spent his first hours in a feeding trough. Yet even in such humble beginnings, God received the glory. The infant Jesus was serenaded by the hosts of heaven, honored by shepherds, and later on given gifts by the wise men.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,Picturing the angels in the sky, the Glory of God shining around them, is remarkable. It is a birth welcome that would more than honor any infant prince or prophet. It is truly beyond glorious.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
But this was God come to earth, not a mere human, not a prophet. The infant lying there, helpless, vulnerable, that was literally God. And he was only acknowledged by shepherds and angels and the wise men. God deserves all the glory. All of it. He deserves for the very stones to cry out in worship of Him, as Luke 19:40 tells us they would if the people of Earth ceased to glorify Him.
And yet, that is not how Christ arrived. He arrived as a lowly infant in a not-so-well-off family to unwed parents. Really, it is mind boggling to think of that, to try and wrap your mind around God - THE God, Creator of the Universe God - choosing to come to earth as a baby. Why? Why would God bring Himself to such a low level as that?
Simply, because He loves us that much. His love for us knows no bounds. And so, because in our flawed and stubborn state, we could not get to Him, He came to us. He bridged the gap between the heavens and the earth so that we could be with Him forever. That kind of love is beyond comprehension.
It is beyond all the glory we can give Him.
And so back to 2 Corinthians 3:7-11. The passage states that the glory surrounding Christ will be far more incredibly glorious than that which surrounded the giving of the law and Moses. Far more glory than Christ received at His birth. Far more than He ever got in life, in death, or in resurrection. Far more than we humans have given in the 2000 or so years since. No, God deserves all the glory. And that glory? It is to come.
That is what Christ's birth symbolizes: the remarkable, unfathomable coming glory.
And with that, O God, thank you, for hope and knowledge that greater things are yet to come.
And to all of you, dear friends, Merry Christmas.