a Redemption Song
I have a fondness for shepherds. This may come from my farming background when I was a boy. I have sat on a hillside in Peru and watched with amazement a shepherd caring for his sheep. Maybe my fondness comes from the analogy of Jesus being our shepherd. It may also come from the many years of ministry in which I have taken Jesus’s words to Peter very seriously when He told him to care for the sheep.
One of the parts of the Christmas story that really blesses me is that the first humans to hear of Jesus arrival were shepherds. Will you imagine with me what that night must have been like? You are sitting together, probably around a campfire, and you are relaxing with other shepherds after a long and hard days work of caring for sheep. The night is quiet except for the stirring of the sheep and conversation of the shepherds. Suddenly, that tranquil scene is interrupted with something that you had never seen or heard. An angel stands in front of you! Not only an angel but the glory of God is shining all around them. Please keep in mind that God had been silent for 400 years and now suddenly He is present with you in the field! They, like any other humans, became very afraid just as you would be afraid.
Then came an announcement that calmed their fears, “Do not be afraid, I have good news. The Christ, the Anointed One has been born in Bethlehem and He is born to save you.” Wow! What great news that was, but that was not the end. Luke tells us that suddenly a large choir of angels appeared. I don’t know about you but two suddenlies is enough for one night. I do not know about you but two suddenlies is enough for one night! The song that these angels were singing was a song that contained the greatest news that a person could ever hear. It is found in Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Before we get into the meaning of the song, we need to understand that for 400 years God had said nothing at all. The reason for His silence was the disobedience of the children of Israel. For over five generations, God had been silent. Have you ever had a person go silent on you for a long time? Then they call and say they want to talk with you. God said nothing for 400 years and then suddenly He is present and sending an angelic message. What kind of message would you be expecting? Would you expect Him to say I told you so or I am going to get you? That is not the message that God sent.
The first thing the angels sang of was God’s glory. What the angels were singing about filled heaven and the field with the glory of God. The glory of God is synonymous with God’s presence. I believe that God came to earth that day. He came not only in the form of a baby in a stable, but He also was present with the shepherds in the field. His presence brought with it an affirmation that what was being sung about was God’s idea and it had His blessing and stamp of approval. It took not only the angels but all God’s glory to persuade them to believe that what was sung about was real.
What the angels sang about brought glory to God. It causes men and angels to sing of His love, mercy, faithfulness and so much more. God’s silence was not the end of the story of humanity. God had an even greater plan for mankind. It was the greatest display of who He is that mankind would ever see and experience. It was meant to bring God glory from the ends of the earth and for eternity!
What was the message in this song? God said, “On earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” These words were not meant to mean that there would be peace among men but peace with God among men. We realize that the coming of Jesus did not bring peace between men, but it did bring peace between God and mankind. This was a song of redemption. There was enmity between mankind and God. Our sins had caused a division between us and God. Romans 5:10 says, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” The angels sang of the day when Jesus would shed His sinless blood on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. This would wash away every bit of the charges that stood between us and God and would totally redeem us from the curses of those sins. It was a song of redemption!
But the song does not end there. The angels finished the lyrics to that song with these words, “whom God is well pleased.” This phrase in English is one word in the Greek text. It is the word eudokia and it means to take pleasure in. Stop and think about that. God is pleased with you. All the struggling to be pleasing to God was taken away because God Himself sent His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. All we need to do is to decide to believe and trust what He did. We change our minds about God. He has accepted us. He is pleased with us! What a wonderful song of redemption!