A few years ago, Prince William and Kate had their first baby Prince George. You may have heard the Town Crier on the news shouting at the top of his lungs, “Hear ye! Hear ye!” He was announcing the royal birth.
“The birth of the royal baby had been followed around the world. In America, rolling news channels devoted their coverage to the birth, while Australia prime minister Kevin Rudd sent his country’s warmest regards to the family.” (Prince George is said to be the eighth British monarch that has descended from Queen Victoria.)The Guardian
There was no “Town Crier” announcing Jesus’ royal birth. Instead it was a heavenly host!
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”Luke 2:9-14 NASB
The KJV says the shepherds were “sore afraid.” They were literally terrified. A single angel (possibly Gabriel) showed up first, probably because God knew the shepherds would have died of fright if they had first seen the multitude of the heavenly host! We don’t know how many angels appeared that night, but the use of the word “multitude” suggests that it was in the hundreds if not thousands. The message was clear. He first says, “Do not be afraid.” I love that the Gospel message was introduced with these words. All through Scripture we are encouraged not to fear.
Do not fear for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.Isaiah 41:10 NASB
Why was Israel not to fear? Because GOD was WITH them. This is the beautiful reality of Christmas. The good news the angel proclaimed that night was not just for Israel, it was “for all the people” (including us)! Emmanuel has come. This is the Gospel.
There are many Gospel themes to this Advent hymn. It speaks of “peace on earth and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled!” Peace on earth is something everyone wants but few realize can only exist when God and sinners are reconciled. We must have peace with God before we can have peace with our fellow man. This is what the Christ of Christmas offers, peace with GOD!
The lyrics refer to Jesus as “the heaven born Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, and the Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings.” The “Sun of Righteousness” is a direct reference to Malachi 4:2, a prophetic reference to the future Messianic kingdom.
But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall.Malachi 4:2
We have mentioned Zechariah’s prophecy in Luke 1:78 about Jesus being the “Sunrise from on high.” This has the same idea as the “Sun of Righteousness.” The word for “healing” has the idea of “spiritual healing.” Healing is the opposite of experiencing dread or terror, destruction (judgment). It refers to a state of security and stability (CWSB Dictionary).
In a sermon entitled “The Sun of Righteousness,” Charles Spurgeon says,
Jesus, like the sun, is the center and soul of all things, the fullness of all good, the lamp that lights us, the fire that warms us, the magnet that guides and controls us; He is the source and fountain of all life, beauty, fruitfulness, and strength; He is the fosterer of tender herbs of penitence, the quickener of the vital sap of grace, the ripener of fruits of holiness, and the life of everything that grows within the garden of the Lord. Whereas to adore the sun would be idolatry, it were treason not to worship ardently the divine Sun of Righteousness.Charles Spurgeon
He goes on to say,
And Let Him have this place in your hearts. There enthrone Him! Establish Him as the central sun, and let Him rule your entire being, enlightening your understanding, warming your hearts, filling all your powers, passions, and faculties with the fullness of His presence. to have Christ in us, the hope of glory – oh what blessedness! But let us take care that it is so, for we know not Christ aright unless we give Him such a place in our hearts as the sun occupies in God’s world!Charles Spurgeon
1. Read Luke 2:9-14. What Gospel message did the Angel tell the shepherds?
2. What part of the angelic message speaks to you the most and why?
3. Read Colossians 1:17-18. What do these verses say about Jesus’ rightful place? Does He have first place in your heart?
4. Read Colossians 1:19-20. What has God done for us through Jesus?
5. How do these verses impact you in light of the Christmas story? Take some time to thank God for the beauty of His redemption story!
Click here to listen to Amy Grant sing this song on YouTube.
Click here for the Crouch End Festival Chorus version of this timeless classic on YouTube.