“TELL HOW THE ANGELS IN CHORUS SANG AS THEY WELCOMED HIS BIRTH”: WHAT HAPPENED AT THE BIRTH OF CHRIST?
By Wayne S. Walker
“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’” (Luke 2:4-14).
Every one of us, in fact every single person who has ever lived on this earth, was born because that is just the way by which we come into this world. We normally think of the birth of any baby as a wonderful, special event, but there was one birth in history which was more spectacular than any other. In 1880 Fanny J. Crosby wrote a gospel song, “Tell Me the Story of Jesus,” which includes the following lines:
“Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth.
‘Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.’”
Although the conception of Jesus was something miraculous, His actual birth was quite normal and in fact rather humble, but it is still very wonderful and special. The purpose of this article is to study what happened at the birth of Christ?
First, several Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled. We looked at some of them in a previous article. It was prophesied that the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). This is cited as being fulfilled in Matthew 1:18-25. It was also predicted that the birthplace of the Messiah would be in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). That is what the Jews expected, and that is what happened (Matthew 2:1-7). In fact, Jesus once said, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44). The truth is that all Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth.
Second, the divine Son of God was incarnate. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). “The Word” suggests a spokesman, as God speaks to us by His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). The Word was “with God,” that is, He was with the Father but separate (Matthew 28:19). Yet, at the same time the Word “was God,” a divine being equal with the Father (Colossians 2:8-9). However, John also writes, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14; cf. Hebrews 2:9-17). This is confirmed by the apostle Paul in Philippians 2:5-8 when he said of Christ Jesus, “Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery [lit. a thing to be grasped or held on to, WSW] to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man….” Thus we believe, as Matthew said, that Jesus is Emmanuel or “God with us”—in other words, that “God was manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16).
Third, God’s plan for sinful man’s redemption was revealed. Note what Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:8-10. “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” This goes back to “before time began.” After time began, God began carrying out His plan with promises regarding the seed of the woman, of Abraham, and of David (Genesis 3:15, 12:1-3, 22:17-18, 2 Samuel 7:12-13). All of this reached its fulfillment as redemption was manifest in Christ (Matthew 1:1; Galatians 3:16, 4:4-5).
How often have we heard the words written by Josef Mohr around 1818:
Silent night, holy night;
Son of God, love’s pure light,
Radiant, beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
It is too bad that the world thinks about the birth of Christ only in December, because without the birth of Christ, there would have been no life, death, and resurrection of Christ, all of which were absolutely necessary for our salvation and hope of eternal life with God in heaven.
—in Search for Truth; Sept. 30, 2015; Vol. VII, No. 8