Sunday Sermon Series – Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

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Luke 2:13-14


HISTORY 

When Charles Wesley wrote this carol in 1739, he had no idea it would become famous. He first named it “Hark, how all the welkin ring,” welkin being an archaic English term for the heavens. When George Whitefield published it in 1753, he changed the first line to read, “Hark! The herald angels sing,” and so it has remained that way ever since.

For the first 120 years, the words were sung to various tunes. But that changed in 1856 when William Cummings joined the lyrics with a tune written by Felix Mendelssohn for the Gutenberg Festival in 1840 to celebrate the introduction of printing. Mendelssohn would be surprised by that because he had written that his tune would be welcomed by singers and hearers, “but it will never do to sacred words.”

Charles Wesley’s hymn offers us a good survey of theology. It mentions many of the names and titles of Christ: King, Lord, Prince of Peace, Sun of Righteousness, Everlasting Lord, Desire of Nations, Incarnate Deity, and Emmanuel. After the first stanza’s call to praise “the new-born King,” the following stanzas celebrate the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the resurrection of the body, and the truth of the new birth. Two phrases, in particular, deserve comment: “Mild he lays his glory by” refers to Christ’s willingness to lay aside the glory of heaven to take on human nature and become one of us. “Late in time behold him come” reminds us of Hebrews 1:2 where we are told “in these last days” God has spoken to us through his Son. – Godtube.com 


SERMON

The First Christmas Carol

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, December 20, 1857

Scripture: Luke 2:14

From: New Park Street Pulpit Volume 4


RELATED SERMONS

Songs of Christmas: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Sermon by J. Ligon Duncan on December 19, 2004

The Announcement of Jesus’ Birth, Part 1

The Announcement of Jesus’ Birth, Part 2, John MacArthur, 1999

The Announcement of Jesus’ Birth, Part 3

Daily Devotional – Blessedness

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Luke 1:26-28

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. LUKE 1:26-28


CONTEXT:

The passage of scripture I want to concentrate on today is v. 28b, but first an overview of of the entire section Luke 1:26-42.  The theme should be plain to all readers, the announcement of Jesus’ birth.  Here is an outline of the facts presented: 

v.26-31 God sends the angel Gabriel to Mary, a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph to tell her she is pregnant.   – We should be amazed that God sends angels to intervene in our lives. We who are all sinners, who deserve nothing be God’s wrath get instead His compassion. 

v.32-33 Gabriel foretells of  the child’s greatness the coming Christ. – Even Mary who was likely not highly educated clearly understood the implications made by Gabriel’s announcement.  She was to give birth to the promised Messiah. 

v.34 Mary responds not with I am not worthy, s be for I have never slept with a man.   – I think most of us would have expected a response like Sarah. Some stranger shows up tells you you are gong to have a baby and you have not had any form of sex EVER, you would likely laugh at them. Mary just calmly ask, how can this happen? 

v.34-37 Gabriel responds that through he power of the Holy Spirit, For with God nothing shall be impossible  this shall come to pass. So too shall your cousin Elizabeth give birth. 

v.38-42 Mary responds by going and visiting Elizabeth where she receives confirmation,  v.41 of all that is to happen. 


BREAKDOWN

Usually when something is repeated in the bible it is of special significance. So to I believe is the case here with Mary. Albeit for very different reasons than my Catholic friends of even many uninformed evangelicals today. 

And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. v.28

And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb v.42

What does it mean blessed art thou among women? First I completely agree with those that say Mary was truly blessed. After all it is hard to argue the fact out of all the folks walking the earth at that time she alone was chosen to give birth to the Messiah, the Son of God, the King of Kings. Of course Mary fit the prophesy perfectly being of the house of David, so God knew what He was doing.

Where I differ in my opinion of “Mary” is why she was blessed. Many think she was “blessed” and THEN chosen by God. But none of the biblical text supports this. Let us look at it again:

v.28: Note what Gabriel says, Mary is blessed because the Lord is with thee. It is not Mary that is special it is God that makes her (and us) special

v.42: Note what and how Elizabeth says to Mary, blessed is the fruit of thy womb.  Again context is everything Elizabeth is saying you have been blessed by God in being selected to carry the Messiah, and that Child in your womb is the Greatest Blessing of All. 

We do a disservice to God, making him co-equal to us, (what do we need a God for then anyway?) when we place the emphasis on any human above God. The miracle of the Virgin Birth and Incarnation of Christ Jesus is one to be celebrated and marveled at. We must remember that it God and always God alone we Glorify. 

 

Call His Name Jesus

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:20-21

The Birth of Jesus Christ

Matthew 1:18-25 (ESV) 

  Now the birth of Jesus Christ[e] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[f] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 

24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

 

Reina-Valera 1960 (RVR1960)

The Word Made Flesh: The Ligonier Statement on Christology

Jesus Christ is truly Lord

Must We Believe In The Virgin Birth?

Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, presents and interesting case.

 

http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/12/22/must-we-believe-the-virgin-birth-4/