I just love Christmastime in general, and I think part of that is the music of Christmas. So many of our Christmas songs are hundreds of years old, and very deep in imagery.
One of my favorite songs of all is Hark! the Herald Angels Sing. How many other songs do we sing regularly that are from 1739!? It’s survived because the message is both extraordinarily beautiful, and extraordinarily powerful.
Look at some of the words and see if you are not moved:
Christ by highest heaven adored,
Christ the everlasting Lord
Though we all have images of Jesus as a baby, he’s not *just* a baby when he’s born. He’s adored by the highest of heaven, and let’s not forget that he is the everlasting Lord of all.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
There is so much to love about this. God “veiled in flesh” as the “incarnate Deity”, pleased to dwell with us.
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
The incarnate Deity came, not to bring judgment or hate to the world, not to condemn the world. But to bring Light and Life and Healing. Wow.
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
He sets aside His heavenly glory (by highest heaven adored!) freely, born for us to no more die, to give us a second birth of true life.
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
Born for the purpose of peace on earth, that God and sinners can be reconciled!
And really, I think the reason I like this song so much is it is a very clear, very beautiful, picture of the gospel.
This song is not beautiful on its own. It’s beautiful because the Gospel is beautiful. It’s not compelling on its own, it is only compelling because the Gospel is compelling.
If you or I were God, we probably would not choose to become a baby, to be born in a barn. And if we chose to grace earth with our presence, we probably would have come in a fiery, glorious storm, appearing before the most powerful rulers of the day. With a world full of sin and one that has utterly rejected us, we probably would have come with judgment and destruction. To show the world who really is in charge.
But this is not what happened at all. The actual God, chose to give up his heavenly glory, and to become a helpless baby. (Just think about that … diapers, growing up, puberty, parents … not exactly glorious) And he didn’t even pick any famous or powerful family to be born into, instead he was born to humble parents, out in some barn somewhere because nobody could find any where else to put him! Is this the importance the world has placed on the Everlasting Lord?
Not only all of this, but he hung out his whole life with the “bottom of the barrel”. Always preferring the company of the company of prostitutes and tax collectors, instead of the rich and powerful.
The people wanted him as their king, maybe even king of Rome. Even the Roman rulers feared for Caesar’s throne. Jesus could have immediately had all of heaven’s armies at His command. And let’s be honest for a moment, with a couple words He could vanquish all of Rome’s armies and take immediate command.
But He doesn’t. Instead, He allows himself to be arrested, tried in a Kangaroo Court if there ever was one, and executed.
God, this is your great plan for humanity!? Sometimes, if we really are honest with ourselves, we have to wonder if God is crazy. Who would come up with such a crazy plan to save the world? These are the moments where these words really come alive for me: “Your thoughts are not my thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.”
Ultimately, the Gospel of Christmas shows that God is going to be exactly who He is. His character and qualities are unwavering. He is the everlasting God of the universe, and that does not change whether He’s a baby in a manger or not.
He respects authority. (He is the source of all authority!) He existed under the authority of Mary and Joseph, under the Priests (he was a Rabbi after all), and ultimately even under Pilate’s orders for death.
Though He is the “incarnate Deity”, He was always humbling Himself. He humbled Himself by being born. By becoming sin for us. Even when He performed miracles, He often told the people not to tell anyone about what they had seen. He doesn’t make pretense over His position, He is even ok with washing dirty feet. What excuse do we have for pride?
He never went alone. He was in constant contact with the Father, in perfect lockstep as a member of the Trinity.
You can go on and on and on.
The reason the song is beautiful is because of the message of the Gospel.
And the Gospel is beautiful because it is the story of the everlasting God of the Universe. A God so Perfect, so Good, so Beautiful, so Wonderful, we can’t believe our ears. Surely God can’t be this Good. Surely God wouldn’t do all of this.
Yet He did. We may never fully understand why He did, but we can fully appreciate the beauty of a God so full of loving goodness that He would go to such great lengths. Thank you Lord!