Have you noticed how many songs on your Christmas playlist mention angels? Like Hark the Herald Angels Sing. That was no sentimental Christmas carol. It’s chocked-full of theology. It’s soaked with Scripture. And it beautifully captures the how and why Jesus came into the world.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing was written by Charles Wesley in 1739. It was one of 6,500 hymns that he wrote! He wrote this carol only 1-year after he became a Christian. If you were like me, i still trying to find and spell Habakkuk. Charles had spiritual roots. As a student at Cambridge, he formed an extracurricular group called the Holy Club. Charles, his brother John and George Whitfield (who put this hymn to music) were all dubbed the Bible Moths. It was after Charles heard the gospel from Moravian missionaries and read Romans 1-9 that he gave his life to Christ. And Hark, the Herald Angels Sing was his first Christmas anthem.
Have you ever been in a situation when you were both in awe and terrified at the same time?
A few months ago, my family enjoyed some rest in Tanzania. I wanted to go fishing in the ocean and take my older girls out for an experience, so we arranged to go on a traditional wooden dhow. The next day before dawn we showed up to what was a beaten down fishing boat. I was a little sad that it wasn’t what we expected, but deep sea fishing still sounded fun. We got into the boat. I didn’t noticed any life-jackets. It was pitch black. We motored more than a two kilometers from shore. The lights from the beach became distant. We gripped tightly to the edge of the boat as it skipped on the sizable waves. Honestly, it wasn’t my best dad moment. If only Sarah knew what we were doing!? When the dawning light peaked above the horizon of the Indian ocean we could see how far we were from land. We were filled with both awe and fear. We did catch dinner. We also spotted a family of humpback whales and we were greeted by a large pod of dolphins, which was a win-win-win.
The Bible captures a moment of awe and terror: (Read & Reflect)
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. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”Luke 2:8-15
This was a powerful and unforgettable scene. Can you imagine it? Can you feel it? Can you sense the awe and fright? … Why is it significant that angels worshiped Jesus? What does the Bible say about Jesus and angels? Let’s get a brief look at angels and Jesus in the Bible:
- Jesus is superior to angels. (Hebrews 1:1-4) —They were messengers; He the Message.
- Jesus made the angels. (Colossians 1:15-16) —They were created; He the Creator.
- Jesus was made to be lower than the angels. (Heb 2:9) — heavenly hosts, Heaven’s Son.
- Jesus is praised by the angels. (Phil. 2:9-11a) —They glorified God; He God’s Glory.
What does this tell you about Jesus? He isn’t an ordinary baby!
Now let’s go back to the text in Luke 2. The town is dark. People have turned into bed for the night. Shepherds were outside of town guarding their herds from predators. What happened that night wasn’t something these shepherds planned for or learned in Shepherd Defense School.
A blinding light appeared. Now, the shepherds probably saw a lot of strange things in their lives. They probably heard stories from shepherds of old around the bonfire, but on this night they would have their own story to tell. The shear presence of something supernatural, would have shook them in their sandals. These shepherds were terrified. No staff was able to protect them from the warrior of light.
An angel appeared. This angel was a messenger—he had some really good news. It was earthshaking, world breaking news. You almost get the sense that this angel had to tell the news, “The promised Savior has come!” Can you think of news more important? Every single word the angel said had past, present, and future significance. The Savior was promised from long ago. This Savior had now come. And this Savior will be good news for all people everywhere—including Sinners. Screwups. Shepherds. Centurions. Sultans, And some insignificant’s like me and you. That’s good news!
There is such an anomaly happening in this text. Angels. And shepherds. Angels came to shepherds. Angels were heavenly beings. Worshipers. Shepherds were culturally low class citizens. God has his way of turning upside-down to right-side up the economy of the world.
One angel become a multitude right before the shepherd’s eyes. What’s a multitude? 🤷🏻♂️ Countless. Think of how many stars are in the night sky. That is how many angels there were filling the skies. What were they doing? Were they singing? I tend to think they were singing because there are some messages that just can’t be spoken, they have to be sung. All we have are the lyrics to their angelic cantata.
There are only three times in the Scripture when we see the heavenly host bursting onto the scene. This was their second performance. The first was at the creation of the world when the praised the Creator (Job 38:4,7). The next time will be around the heavenly throne room (Revelation 19:5-7). Do you see that at each of these cosmic moments Jesus is front and center? He is the focus of the angels—of their song. He was the One at creation, He was the One in the manger, and He will be the One they call the Lamb of God, the Prince of Peace, the King of Heaven. And here in Luke 2 the angel choirs sing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”
The angels vanished and the shepherds were there alone. Can you imagine the fear and awe on their faces? What’s to say? What’s to do? They got their smartphones out, Instagrammed it (but is was too way early in the morning to get any, “likes!”) No! They latched their sandals, they got their staffs, they ditched their herds, and said, “Let’s go … and see this Savior!”
This Christmas what do we take from Luke 2?
▪️If the multitude of angels worshiped Jesus, then we must also worship Jesus. Give glory to the the Newborn King! Christ, the everlasting Lord. Hail the incarnate Diety! Hail the Son of Righteousness. Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace.
▪️If peace is what the angels promised to those who believe in Jesus, then we can enjoy the peace of Jesus today. The peace that comes from “God and sinners reconciled.” If you only had 8 words to explain the Gospel, you can’t do much better than “God and sinners reconciled through Jesus, our Emmanuel”
▪️If the angel had to tell the shepherds about Jesus, then we also must tell the world about Jesus. Let’s “Join the triumph of the skies” by sharing the good news of great joy. Echoing what Jesus said to his followers, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything [he] have commanded you. And surely [Emmanuel] with you always, to the very end of the age.”