They must have been confused, the angels, as they watched Jesus take off His robe and lay aside His crown; perplexed even more when His Father escorted the Son to the gates of Heaven, commissioning Him to leave.
The Beloved One to leave the warmth and joy and wholeness of Heaven? Never would they have thought. Certainly, there must be a reason and they must have followed behind the Father and the Son to discover it, to watch the goodbyes, to see these strange events unfold.
The Son, the Light of Heaven, gone away. They must have wept at the removal of His presence, at seeing the only Son torn from His Father's side. God, knowing His good purposes, must have comforted them, saying, "It is time. The salvation the prophets have inquired about and searched carefully for is come."
Yes, they must have replied, excitement building, these are the things we have desired to look into!
And so He escorted them to the gates of Heaven too. He sent them too.
They arrived at a destination they did not expect. It was not Jerusalem or a palatial home among the elite. It was not among the religious leaders or even in a large city. Bethlehem, little Bethlehem, out of the way Bethlehem.
And there, in a barn, among slobbering, smelly animals, a young mother giving birth to a child.
A child so familiar.
Could it be?
And suddenly, the plan was known, crystallized before them in a newborn boy.
All this time, the world burdened under the weight of sin, disasterously off course. All this time, the humble men and women waiting, eyes toward Heaven. All this time, the blood of the animals. All this time, God far off.
The angels must have exploded with joy, to see their only Heavenly Joy swaddled up and given as a gift to mankind. Their gift would become the earth's; humble men and women would get to see and hear and touch their Beloved Jesus.
In their rejoicing, they did what anyone does when their receive an immeasurable gift. They shared it, by singing, by revealing themselves to people.
I wonder, did the neighbors or the innkeeper or the many people crowding Bethlehem's streets hear their rejoicing? After all, it was a normal evening, with food preparations and business to take care of and children to put to bed. Perhaps they were too busy to notice the bright star in the sky or the strange singing outside their windows. Oblivious to joy.
The shepherds didn't miss it, this explosion of joy so overwhelming that it made them uncomfortable and fearful. The angels calmed them: Do not be afraid! Don't miss this! The greatest gift ever given to this world can be seen in Bethlehem! GO!!
To their unending joy, they went.
They saw the gift, just a helpless little baby.
A baby who unburdened the world.
A baby who made all sin come untrue.
A baby who was God come near.
He is your unending joy too, for unto you is born this day, a Savior, Christ the Lord.
Like the angels, we must look into these things, to seek understanding.
But like the shepherds, we must seek Him, to see the gift wrapped up in a little baby, to know this joy.