Angels: A Song of Peace
Surpassing our understanding
We've been looking at Christmas songs preserved for us in Scripture. Some, like Zechariah's song last week, are completely foreign to most of us. Today we will look at one that's a little more familiar: the angels' announcement of Jesus' birth.
This passage involves shepherds—men who herded livestock for a living, who were at the very bottom of the social structure. You've heard people say, "She cusses like a sailor." In those days there was a saying, "He lies like a shepherd." Fairly or unfairly, the character of a shepherd was not highly regarded. Shepherds tended to be socially inept, hygienically-challenged, and culturally reviled. The work was dirty and dangerous; shepherds were exposed to all the elements in all seasons. Men who shepherded usually had no other work options.
It's worth noting that these angels did not bring the wonderful message of Christ's birth to those who had influence. They did not appear to the wealthy or to political or religious leaders. Instead they came to the least significant, least respected, least likely people in the community. So when God's messenger said he came to bring good news to all people, he demonstrated it by starting at the bottom.
First there was one angel (presumably Gabriel who appeared to Zechariah in last week's talk), then he was joined in verse 13 with "a great company of angels." That phrase means "more than could be counted." If you think one angel is scary, how'd you like to see angels from here to infinity?
The first angel brought the news in verse 11: "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." He gave specific instructions about when and where this Messiah was to be born. The great company of angels brought the ...
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Ed Rowell is pastor of Tri-Lakes Chapel in Monument, Colorado, and author of Preaching with Spiritual Passion (Baker).