In reference to the gospel of our salvation, the apostle Peter wrote:
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that would come to you searched and carefully investigated. They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things. (1 Pet. 1:10–12)
Three groups related to the gospel are mentioned in this passage: prophets, apostles, and angels. The prophets were those who foretold the gospel. Peter paints the picture that as they wrote down the prophecies about Christ, they would step back from their writing with an expectant and excited heart, thrilled yet overwhelmed with knowledge too great to comprehend. They searched Scriptures trying to understand what they wrote as the gospel was more beautiful and amazing than they could grasp. The apostles witnessed the work of Christ in the first century. The apostles went on to declare the gospel after the prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus.
Then there are the angels. They “desire to look into these things.”
The word for “desire” in the original language speaks of having a desire that is not easily satisfied. The word for “look” in the original language means to stoop down. The angels have this overwhelming and unquenchable desire to stoop down and look into the gospel.
But didn’t they have front-row seats? Weren’t they deeply involved in the apex of the gospel narrative—Christ entering our world on a rescue mission?
For example, in Luke 1 an angel tells Mary that she is the one who has been chosen to give birth to the Christ. Understandably Mary’s whole “Holy Spirit story” did not make a lot of sense to Joseph, so in Matthew 1 an angel comes to Joseph with the same ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼news. Angels delivered the news to Mary and Joseph, yet they desire to look into these things?
In Luke 2, right after Jesus was born, an angel of the Lord stood before a group of shepherds who were watching their sheep at night. The angel made the first birth announcement and invited others to go and worship Him, yet they desire to look into these things?
In Matthew 2, weeks after Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Child was in grave danger. Herod was threatened by the excitement of a new King being born and has decided that all males born in Bethlehem should be killed. But an angel of the Lord warned Joseph in a dream to flee Bethlehem. Angels were a part of protecting the child and ensuring that Christ would grow up and take the sins of the world upon Himself. Later, after an intense season of testing in the wilderness, angels ministered to Jesus (Matt. 4). Yet they desire to look into these things?
Angels are eternal beings that forever enjoy the presence of God. What did they miss that stirs such a longing in them?
Angels know all about the gospel, but they do not know the gospel. They have never experienced gospel transformation because they have never needed to be transformed. Unlike believers, angels have never been rescued and do not know the gratitude of being rescued by Jesus. And, unlike believers, angels have never been restored. They don’t fully understand the joy that comes when Jesus transforms brokenness into wholeness.
Angels are filled with awe for the gospel; how much more should those who have experienced it? When we are overwhelmed with awe for Jesus and His righteousness freely given to us, we are filled with the motivation to live a godly life in Christ Jesus. We obey because our hearts are melted by the devastatingly refreshing truth of the gospel. The reminder of the gospel motivates us to live out the transformation Christ has already brought to us.
Adapted from Transformational Discipleship (B&H Publishing Group, 2012)