We all love a good birth announcement. Social media is filled with pictures of newborns, announcing names and genders and health, and these posts are immediately smothered in likes and loves and hugs. But there was one birth announcement that trumps all other birth announcements, one that we keep talking and singing about, and that was the announcement shared by the angels more than 2000 years ago, the one about the birth of the Son of God.
Last week, we began walking through the lyrics of the familiar Christmas carol, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”. In the first verse, we considered the encouragement to share the birth announcement, to “join the triumph of the skies,” to proclaim with the angels, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!” We remembered that we are not meant to keep this news to ourselves, but that we have been commanded by Christ Himself to share it with the world. And who is this Christ we are to proclaim? Let’s continue with the second verse.
Christ, by highest heaven adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord, late in time behold him come, offspring of the Virgin’s womb: veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail the incarnate Deity, pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel. Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”
Once again, there is so much more here than I will – or even could – mention, but to state it plainly, this second verse tells us who this Christ is.
This Christ is adored by highest heaven. He is the everlasting Lord. See who He is: the incarnate Deity, veiled in flesh. Think about that. The One through whom and for whom the world was made stepped into that world as a human. Jesus’ disciple John lays this out clearly for us in the introduction to his gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1-3, 14a).
Jesus, the Word, is God. Immanuel. See the Godhead veiled in flesh, the carol sings. The eternal Son of God placed Himself in our time and in our space, and yet He never ceased to uphold the universe. As Gavin Ortlund wrote, “The One in the manger is both: swaddled tightly, yet filling the heavens; clinging to his mother, yet holding every atom in place; crying for comfort, yet sustaining the stars; sleeping among the donkeys, adored by the angels.” This is the One who, in great humility, was pleased as man with men to dwell.
Don’t let this news pass you by: God came to us. And don’t read too quickly past those words, because every one is essential: God came to us. The God we rejected, the King against whom we rebelled, did not wait for us to come crawling back to Him, if we even could. He did not wait for us to try harder to earn His favor. He came in a way we could understand – as one of us – and rescued us, those arrogant, ungrateful sinners who deserve death and eternal separation from Him. His grace, His mercy, His love, all displayed perfectly in His Son…none of it is anything we deserve to experience. Yet we do. His grace, His mercy, and His love are limitless, surpassing our greatest offenses against Him, exceeding our deepest sins and sorrows. Jesus, our Immanuel, is the proof of His love for us.
And He didn’t rescue us so that He could bring us back to scold us and take away our favorite privileges; He rescued us so that He could shower us with more grace, more mercy, more love, more goodness, more life, more freedom, more of Him forever and ever.
Let us never fall into the trap of thinking that He is just a better version of us: He is fully human and fully God. He is the everlasting Lord, the incarnate Deity, Jesus our Immanuel, God With Us. Hark! The herald angels – and we with them – praise God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest!”
Read Philippians 2:6-11. What does this tell you about Jesus? What does it tell you about us?
Each week, I’ll link a different version of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” There are many versions, old and new, so I’ll post my three favorites in hopes that they lead you to not just appreciate the song more, but to worship our Lord more.
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing [Acoustic Session] by Sovereign Grace Music
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