Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

With most Christmas carols, and even many hymns, I think we sing the words so automatically that maybe the meaning doesn't register completely with us. The text can be simple or complex, but when it becomes rote, it doesn't pierce our hearts the way it should. I was especially struck with that notion when singing this carol this year.

There is some heady stuff in here - real, deep, theological truths that should be pondered and meditated upon - not just glossed over as if it's the millionth time we've sung it. So as we approach Christmas weekend, I wanted to really focus on the words of this great hymn, brought to us by Charles Wesley, who wrote other great hymns including O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing and Come, Thou Almighty King. (Charles wrote over 6,000 hymns in total!)

When the angels sang to herald Jesus' birth, what was the first thing they said? They gave Him glory! And after that? Announced that God and sinners would be reconciled!

You see, our sin separates us from a holy God. But Jesus was born to take our sins upon His body on the cross, and reconcile us to God. When we accept this gift by faith, we are no longer separate - we are reconciled.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. II Corinthians 5:18

All the fullness of God dwelt in Jesus who was a man, and through whom all things were reconciled through His blood shed on the cross. Paul reminds us that we were alienated from God because of our evil behavior, but through Christ's physical death we are reconciled.

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; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.Colossians 1:19-22

Is it any wonder the angels sang "Glory to the newborn King"?? It certainly was good news - God and sinners reconciled! And because of our reconciliation with God, we can be presented before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach! God looks at me and sees Jesus! I have been made perfect through Jesus' atoning work on the cross. Glory to the Newborn King!

The second verse tells us more about who this newborn King is - veiled in flesh the Godhead see...

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. John 1:14-18

Jesus was fully God and fully man. He was the Godhead veiled in flesh. John tells us that no one has seen God at any time, but the only begotten God (Jesus) has explained Him. God sent Jesus to the earth to be the sinless Savior. He was 100% God and 100% fleshly man. Hail the Incarnate Deity!

The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. Pleased as man with men to dwell - Jesus came to earth a human man and lived among us - grew up just like every other human (except without sin) - he truly is "God with us."

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Matthew 1:23

Glory to the Newborn King!

Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace - this was the child that God's people had been waiting for. Isaiah had told of Him and now He was here!

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

This Prince of Peace mildly (humbly) laid aside His glory to obey the Father and do His will.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:5-7

Jesus came to save sinners. He was born that men no more would die.

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation. John 11:49-51

He came unlike any other King. Unlike other Kings, He came to serve and not be served. He came that men no more may die.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

Glory to the Newborn King! He was born to raise the sons of earth.

For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:53-56

Jesus conquered death on the cross so that we may never die, and furthermore, we would be raised with Him on the last day. God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. John 5:24

Through Christ's righteousness we have eternal life. His birth and subsequent death purchased our eternal life.

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20-21

We have a second birth because this King was born as a baby, lived as a human, and humbly obeyed His Father even to death for our sake. Glory to the Newborn King!

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Words by Charles Wesley

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled."
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sara, Merry Christmas. God and sinners reconciled - Haleluiah! Blessings to you and your family as you celebrate the birth of our Savior.