This is a four-part Advent Season series looking at the history and inspiration behind some of our most popular Christmas Carols. The idea sprang from Pastor Greg thinking about one of his favorites, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Each week he talks about a different well-known carol. He starts with some historical context on who wrote the carol and where their inspiration came from at the time. Then, he does some Scriptural analysis to see how the lyrics measure up with the Bible and what takeaways the Lord has for us as well.
This is Week Two: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” — “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going… So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” – John 3:1-8
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
Reconciled. Literally it means to change very precisely or to change one thing to match another to a very precise point. It was originally used in the exchange of coins, to exchange one thing for another. So Paul is saying that God EXCHANGED/SWAPPED OUT our sinful, rebellious nature for His holy and pure nature.
How did He do this? Paul says God did this “through Christ” or better understood as “through the actions of Christ.” This word “through” in Greek is Dia and it can also be translated “by” or “the means by which something takes place,”or “the path you take to reach an intended destination.” So Paul says we have been reconciled, our very nature has been exchanged very precisely and now we are seen by God as righteous, even though we ourselves are NOT righteous. It is Christ’s righteousness in us. Paul says, when God looks at us now, He looks at us THROUGH the lens of Jesus’ righteousness and sinlessness so now that’s how He sees us as well. We have been given this amazing gift from God, because of the righteous actions of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Jesus gave us credit for what He did on the cross. He died for our sins and then He let us share in His righteous standing before God. So, now, if we are IN CHRIST, if we have placed our faith IN CHRIST as the Lord and Savior of our life, then we are counted as righteous before God as well. God, through Christ, has chosen to reconcile Himself to us, to end the disagreement, to make enemies friends once again. If that excites you would you say Hallelujah?
Let’s get back to our Christmas Carol. In verse two Charles Wesley wrote: [SING] Christ, by highest heaven 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 men to dwell. Jesus our Emmanuel. Hark The Herald Angels Sing. Glory To The New Born King!
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:1-3, 14
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” – John 11:21-27