Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Birth Announcement

8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them (the shepherds), and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a Baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”  15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the Baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing Him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. Luke 2:8-17 (NLT).

Jesus the Messiah arrived to a small Jewish town in Bethlehem, a town five miles south of Jerusalem. However, Jesus’ small town arrival to earth received a grand announcement from heaven. God the Father sent His heavenly angels (also called "the armies of heaven" or "heavenly hosts") to announce the arrival of His Son, Jesus the Messiah (meaning Christ). The angels announced to the world the good news of Jesus. Jesus would be the Lamb of God (John 1:36) that would take away the sins of the whole world and bring peace. 

For years, the Jews had been waiting for the Messiah. Now the Messiah had arrived not only for the Jews but for all people, worldwide. Jesus the Messiah brought God’s lasting peace, salvation, and Kingdom to earth.  Even more, Jesus brought everyone a chance to receive a new heart that will last for eternity to all who believe and accept Him (see Romans 5:1).

All the more amazing are the people that received this heavenly announcement, shepherds.  Shepherds were common, ordinary people and often portrayed in first century Judaism as drifters, homeless, poor, and troublemakers.  The shepherds were some of the first people to hear God’s angelic announcement that salvation and peace had arrived for all nations, worldwide.   At first, the shepherds who heard Jesus’ angelic announcement were frightened, but their fear turned to joy and excitement.

That night in Bethlehem, the angels sang a short hymn. This hymn is called Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Latin for “Glory to God in the Highest”) and sometimes this hymn is called Gloria.  The angels gave praise to the majesty and loving God. This heavenly hymn has inspired musical composers for years and is the basis of many choral works, Christmas carols, and liturgical chants.  Christmas songs inspired by this passage include:

Angels We Have Heard on High
O Holy Night!
Silent Night! Holy Night!
The First Noel
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks.

God, thank You for sending Your Son Jesus Christ to the world!  Jesus Christ is the best Gift the world will ever know.  Thank you God!

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