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Posts Tagged ‘Messiah’

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As we prepare to celebrate Christmas amid the rampant commercialism, hectic shopping, decorating, wrapping, cooking, and frayed nerves, may we pause to reflect on the significance of John. 1:14 to our celebration.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. — John 1:14, NRSV

Here in this text, the Apostle John distils the entire message of the Bible and declares that the Word—the eternal God who existed before time and history, who spoke into existence the universe and all living things—became flesh and appeared among us as a human baby! The invisible, infinite, supernatural Creator became the visible, finite, flesh-and-blood Jesus of Nazareth! In one sentence, John covers the 33-year life span of Jesus and reminds us that we actually saw the glory of God in Jesus.

Just as the Shechinah—the glory and presence of God—appeared among the Israelites in the wilderness (Ex. 16:10; 24:16; 40:34), so was God’s glory revealed in Jesus at his birth (Lk. 2:14, 30-32), transfiguration (Mt. 17:2; Mk. 9:3), death, resurrection, and ascension (Jn. 7:39; 12:16, 23, 28; 13:31,32).

The glory seen in Jesus came from the unique Father-Son relationship that he had with God before the universe was created (Jn. 17:5), and permeated his earthly life and ministry. We not only saw the glory of God in Jesus, but also the fullness of God’s grace—the limitless mercy, kindness, and love of God for sinners—and the embodiment of the truth of God’s nature and characteristics.

And as Jesus prepared to return to his Father, he promised that he would not leave us alone, but that his Holy Spirit of truth would be with us to teach, guide, comfort, and help us.

So as we gather with our families and friends this Christmas, may we find time to give thanks to God that he did not stay remote and aloof from us in his heavenly realm, but, through Jesus, identified with our humanity, loved us, suffered for us, and ultimately died for our sins in order to redeem us and give us fullness of life—now and for all eternity.

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The Gospel of Luke is the only one among the four gospels that tells the story of an angel appearing before lowly shepherds to announce the joyful news of the birth of a child who would become the long-awaited Savior—The Messiah—and to invite them to visit the baby in a nearby stable in Bethlehem.

And then:

“Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God:

‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to all whom God favors.’ ”
–Luke 2:13-14, New Living Translation (NLT)

How startling and thrilling it must have been for the shepherds to see not just one angel—but, suddenly, a vast number of heavenly hosts praising God!

“Host“ and “heavenly host,” are military terms used throughout the Old Testament, so the NLT is correct in translating Luke 2:13 as “armies of heaven.”

These angelic fighting forces, with powers like those of the angel in 2 Kings 19:35 who single handedly killed 185,000 Assyrian troops in one night, appeared in the radiance of God’s glory—not to fight that night, but to praise God and herald the Messiah’s birth.

It was customary to have local musicians greet newborns and their parents with songs outside their homes, but Jesus had no such earthly minstrels outside his stable. Instead, his birth was the greatest event in human history and was worthy of a heavenly minstrelsy of millions of God’s angels (as in Rev. 5:11-13).

Their song—a couplet with three parallels in each line: (1) glory/peace; (2) in the highest heaven/on earth; (3) to God/to all whom God favors—gave the highest praise to God throughout the realms of heaven, and proclaimed a message of peace on earth.

However, this was not a universal declaration of peace for all on earth, but only “to all whom God favors.” And whom does God favor? He favors all who responds to his love by believing and trusting in Jesus as their Savior and by being reborn as sons and daughters of God (John 1:10-12; John 3:16).

This is what Jesus meant when he said to his disciples and to those who would follow him, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27 NLT)

This gift of peace is the presence of the Holy Spirit living within believers, guiding them, comforting them, and strengthening them (John 14:26). This is not the worldly peace that depends on the absence of conflict, but it is the peace of the Holy Spirit who gives the believer the confident assurance of God’s love and abiding presence in any and all circumstances, with no fear of either present or future circumstances and outcomes (Romans 8:35-39).

And so, during this Christmas season and in the midst of the uncertainties of life today—mass killings, drive-by shootings, economic uncertainties and loss of jobs, failing health, wars, and more—the joyous proclamation by the angels that the Christ Child came to bring “peace on earth to all whom God favors” should inspire us to joyfully lift our praises to our heavenly Father.

Not only did the armies of heaven herald Christ’s first appearance, they will also announce his Second Coming when he will finally establish his Kingdom of true peace for all eternity, for as the Apostle John wrote:

“Then I looked again, and I heard the singing of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus:

‘The Lamb is worthy—the Lamb who was killed.
He is worthy to receive power and riches
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and blessing . . .’

‘Blessing and honor and glory and power
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever.’ “

May Christ’s peace rule in your hearts this Christmas and until he returns.

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