Summary: The message of the angels on Christmas is a message to dispel fear, bring cheer, and be shared.
Angels We Have Heard On High Luke 2:8-20
INTRO.: This may be the oldest of all the Christmas carols we sing. There is evidence, although disputed, that this carol was sung in the Church at Rome as early as 129 BC. It’s inspiring to think we may be singing a carol nearly 2000 years old. Of course, when first sung, it was sung in Latin - "Gloria en excelsis Deo." later, it was adopted by the French and translated into their language, from which we received it. So, in our hymnals, it is called a French traditional carol.
The message of the carol is even more inspiring than its history. It transports us to the time when, on the hillsides of Judea, the angels of God appeared in chorus to bring the message of the birth of Jesus to lowly shepherds caring for their sheep. We can easily imagine the glory of their song as it drifts across the plain and echoes off the mountains in the distance. We can sense the wonder of the shepherds. We can almost hear the "good news of great joy" they proclaim.
The carol celebrates the message of the angels. Let’s consider their message. It is a message from Heaven, a message of joy, and a message to be shared.
I. It is a message to inspire courage: "Fear not."
A. Like the shepherds, we fear the supernatural.
1. It seems normal to fear beings as glorious and powerful as angels.
2. Their appearance was mysterious and we fear the unknown.
3. The suddenness of the event was startling.
B. There is yet another reason to fear: guilt.
1. Isaiah feared because of his guilt. Isa. 6:5
2. The sight of an angelic being or the return of Christ would cause many to fear.
3. Jesus died to free us from the fear of death and guilt.
C. The message of the Gospel is "do not be afraid." 10
1. Do not fear God. He loves you. I John 4:18
2. Do not fear the evil one. He is defeated.
3. Don’t fear the unknown future. God will bring you through it.
4. Don’t even fear death. Christ has conquered it.
5. "Do not be afraid" is not just for the Judean shepherds, but for all who hear and believe the Gospel
II. It is a message to cheer the heart. "good news of great joy" 10
A. A message of deliverance from a deadly evil:
1. ILLUS.: Remember the joyous scenes when Iraqis were freed from the oppressive reign of Hussein. We are freed from an even greater evil.
2. There are many evils and injustices in this world.
3. But the greatest curse on the human race is sin and Jesus has freed us from its slavery.
B. A promise of fulfillment of every human hope:
1. For 1500 years the Jews had awaited their Deliverer. Now He has come.
2. The entire creation is groaning like a mother giving birth. We live in hope of a better life. Rom. 8:22-24.
3. The message of the angels gives hope that some day a new and better world is coming.
4. As we face death, the news of eternal life in Christ is truly "good news of great joy."
C. The coronation of a new King:
1. We place great hope in our leaders, rulers, but all fail us because they’re only human.
2. Every political leader makes great promises and fails to keep them.
3. Jesus is "King of kings and Lord of lords." Every promise He made He will keep.
4. I Tim. 1:17. "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen."
III. A message to be communicated to "all the people."
A. A message for people, not just for governments, groups, institutions.
1. It came first to shepherds, considered "low class" by pious Jews.
2. They immediately sought to verify the message in their own experience. To "see this thing." 15
3. This is how the message comes to all of us. We first hear then experience salvation in Jesus.
4. The next natural step is to tell others. 17. "When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,"
B. The message is still urgently intended for all people:
1. The brief angelic ministry was supplanted by human ministry. This is God’s way.
2. Those who need and find salvation are best equipped to share it with others.
3. As Jesus left the earth, His parting words were a commission to spread the Gospel.
C. The aim of the angelic message is "Glory to God in the highest," The message of the carol.
1. Both angels and shepherds sang God’s praises.