It’s December and that means…CHRISTMAS IS HERE!!!!
This month we are studying Carols: The Sounds of the Season! Those good’ol Christmas Carols from days gone by.
How many years have you celebrated Christmas?
For me this will be my 31st year celebrating Christmas! Like most; I have been celebrating Christmas since I was an infant. Because of this we have gotten into the normal routine of putting up the tree, buying presents, eating a big dinner, visiting family…and the list goes on!
One of the things that encompasses all of these is the music.
Whether or not you like Christmas music it is there! Those songs play on the TV, at church, on the radio, and in stores…and I will not debate WHEN it should played, but only that it is playing.
But so often, when we are so used to hearing something we ignore it. As I said, I have been celebrating Christmas now for 31 years and every year (since I was able to talk) listened to and sang the songs. I enjoy almost all of them; the old ones, the new ones, the silly ones, the serious ones, and almost all in-between. Why do I say all this? I believe we have all heard and sang them for so long we have forgotten the meaning and just sing them as tradition.
If you have read my messages before you will notice I spend a lot of time looking at the why we do what we do. The reason for this is not be the guy who asks the dumb question, but to make you stop and pounder the reason we do things. If we don’t do that from time to time we will lose the purpose God has placed in and around us.
The first carol I want us to stop and pounder is O Come all Ye Faithful!
I believe there are two principles we can take from this song, but let’s look at the lyrics first…
O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem Come and behold Him, born the King of angels O come, let us adore Him O come, let us adore Him O come, let us adore Him Christ the Lord Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above Glory to God, in the highest O yes, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning Jesus, to Thee be all glory Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing O come, O come adore Him Gather round the throne before Him O come, O come adore Him Christ the Lord
This carol is written mainly from Luke 2 and Matthew 2. Both of these passages focus on the idea of coming and adoring Jesus who was born in the manger. I want to look two groups who stand out in the birth of Christ that are reflected in this song most clearly.
The Shepherds and The Wisemen
These two groups have something in common and something that sets them apart. As we continue studying this carol and the Scripture it is from think about this question…
Are you shepherd or a wiseman?
1. The Shepherd: Come and Go
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:8-20
The shepherd where in the fields working. In the song it says Come all Ye Faithful, Joyful, and Triumphant.
The Jews had been waiting for the Messiah for hundreds of years. They were busy working and maintaining what God had given them. The shepherds where the faithful. They were faithfully watching those sheep overnight, like they had done many nights before, and how their fathers and father’s fathers had no doubt done before them. These men did not strive to be something they were not, but when the message about the Messiah came they did not wait.
The shepherds are the faithful who came to see the birth of Christ Jesus. They are those who have been waiting and working knowing that one day those things that have heard from their youth will come to pass. Trusting that God will do what He said He would do.
O come, let us adore Him O come, let us adore Him O come, let us adore Him Christ the Lord
They wanted to be a part of the great thing God had done by sending the Messiah into the world. Adoration can be given to anything, but when we recognize that the “Him” is not just someone special, but He is Christ the Lord we stand in awe of God’s great love for us!
They found the Christ child laying in a manger and…
When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child
Just as the carol proclaims Come let us adore Him; when the shepherds came and gave their adoration to Christ they couldn’t help but Go.
It says, “they spread the word,” when they experienced the joy of meeting Jesus they had to Go!
I believe this is often our experience with Christ. We have a great encounter with the true and living God! There is an awe and adoration we have for Christ Jesus we get so excited we begin to go and tell everything about what the Lord has done!
These shepherds didn’t feel like anything special, but they came face to face with the message of Christ and had to see for themselves. When they found Christ they had to share it with the world.
The Carol goes on to say…
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above Glory to God, in the highest
Their excitement and desire for the world to know made all who heard interested or “amazed”. Because of their joy in Christ Jesus they went and told everyone. Then when they returned to the fields they were still singing and bringing glory to God.
This is the first group we find this song is calling too. The faithful shepherds who came and adored at once when they heard the message of Christ and went and told everyone about the miracle of Christmas.
2. The Wisemen: Came and Listened
The account of the wisemen is found in Matthew 2 and I believe O Come Let us Adore Him helps us understand this group also.
1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi a from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6“ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ”
7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. Matthew 2:1-12
This group of people is very similar to the Shepherds, but where as the Shepherds are an example of the faithful who waited and watched for the coming Messiah. The Wisemen or Magi, are those who came to find out and left in triumph.
Matthew writes that the Wisemen had seen a star that called to them to come. When they examined further they found it was the calling of the birth of the chosen one of the Jews or the King of the Jews. They too, like the Shepherds recognized the great thing that had happened!
Just as the song encourages us to come and adore Him Christ the Lord; the Wisemen were the first to hear and follow this calling from the star.
They saw the star and could not help but come and adore the Christ!
The people who walked in darknesshave seen a great light;those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,on them has light shone. Isaiah 9:2
The light from that star shown for the world to see and that light continued on in Jesus.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
He is the light of the world that beckons everyone to come to Him. He gives light to people so they no longer live in darkness!
As Christians, our goal in life is to be the star or light, to the world. Just as Jesus is the light that beckons people who Himself, we too, need to be pointing our light toward Him.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14
Shine the light of Christ to the world this Christmas and throughout the year!
Back to the Wisemen…They went to adore Christ and along the way they stopped to ask for directions. There are many who are searching for the light that they have glimpsed, but often they ask for directions from the wrong places.
This is why we find so many loosing their way. They hear the calling to come and adore, but when they begin seeking they only find people or things to adore and not “Him, Christ the Lord.”
Once they found Christ, the true light of the world, they adored Him or worshiped Him.
At the start I said the main difference between the Shepherds and Wisemen was faithful vs. triumphant.
But up until this point they are both the same; they both heard and saw something great and acted on that calling to come and adore the Christ child. However, it is the end of the story of the Wisemen that make they the triumphant.
12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
They listened and triumphed over the call of the world and their old life.
They were warned in a dream that King Herod was not good. God is always speaking to us, but it must be our decision to listen to what He is saying and follow His direction.
This group came and was triumphant, because they Continued to listen to God. It is easy to get caught up in the busyness, joy, and excitement of the Christmas Season that we forget to stop and continue to listen to the voice of the Lord!
Now that we have come and adored Him, Christ the Lord; as the Shepherds and Wisemen did we must not stop their, but continue to follow their examples.
I pose the question again…Are you a Shepherd or a Wiseman?
Both come and adore, but do you need to…
Go and tell as the Shepherds did?
Stop and listen to God’s next step as the Wisemen did?
As you listen to and sing O Come All Ye Faithful this Christmas remember you are called to come and adore Christ, but don’t stop there. Continue in what God has called you to do or listen for where He is calling you!
God Bless and BetheLIGHT