Summary: This is the second message in a series based on some of the most popular Christmas hymns.
No Christmas Eve candlelight service would be complete without singing the song we are going to look at today. In fact, I had expected this one to easily hold the top spot in our survey. As you have probably guessed the song is “Silent Night.” This song has the ability to bring peace to even the most troubled heart and to carry the message of Christmas across cultural and denominational boundaries. Joseph Mohr was born in the year 1792 in Salzburg, Austria. In 1815 Mohr was ordained a Roman Catholic priest. While serving as an assistant priest at the Church of St. Nicholas in Obernorf God used an apparent crisis to inspire Mohr to pen the words to “Silent Night.” On December 24, 1818 it was discovered that the church organ was broken and this really put damper on the carefully planned out music for that night’s Christmas Eve Service. Scrambling to salvage the Christmas Eve service Mohr decided that he would write a new song for the service that could be played without the organ. Hastily, he penned the words to “Silent Night” and rushed them over to his organist Franz Gruber so a simple melody could be composed. So that evening “Silent Night” was sung for the first time as a duet accompanied only by a guitar. “Silent Night” would be published for the first time for congregation singing in 1838 in a German hymnal. The song was first translated into its current English form in 1863. “Silent Night” may have never written if it wasn’t for a broken organ in a church on Christmas Eve. Today, our goal is to discover the lessons that God can teach us through the simple but extraordinary message of this timeless Christmas favorite.
I. The silence that night would be broken by the cries of a baby that was born in quite an extraordinary way.
A. Matthew zeros in on how Jesus’ birth was a fulfillment of prophecy.
1. This interpretation of Isaiah 7:14 would have been revolutionary considering Isaiah’s context.
2. This sign was promised due to Ahaz’s refusal to ask God for a sign. The structure of the passage leads one to believe that this prophecy would be something that would greatly impact the Davidic dynasty that Ahaz would witness.
3. When studying Biblical prophecy one will quickly discover that some prophecies have an immediate fulfillment and will realize a much more profound and greater fulfillment in the future.
4. What Matthew addresses is the fact that the birth of Jesus brought Isaiah’s prophecy to its complete fulfillment.
B. The extraordinary aspect lies in the fact that it is a virgin that gives birth to the Messiah.
1. The angel announcing to Joseph that Mary’s pregnancy was the fulfillment of prophecy would have removed the doubts that he may have had in regard to Mary’s faithfulness.
2. A virgin giving birth to a child would most definitely be an unmistakable sign because only God would capable of pulling this off.
3. As Mary holds her firstborn child, one can only imagine how she must have reflected on the extraordinary circumstance surrounding this birth.
4. By establishing how Jesus fulfilled prophecy links the Old and New Testaments together and shows how God had been preparing for the birth of His Son for centuries.
5. The sign of the virgin birth leaves no doubt as to the full identity of Jesus by establishing His deity.
II. The silence that night would be broken by an extraordinary announcement resulting in extraordinary praise.
A. The angel will announce that the long awaited Messiah had finally arrived.
1. This announcement is loaded with terms that are jam packed with meaning.
a. City of David: This establishes the connection with the Davidic dynasty.
b. Savior: This identifies the child as a great deliverer.
c. Messiah: This identifies the child as the promised King.
2. The fact that the angel chooses to say “today” established the fact that the Messianic age begins that day in Bethlehem.
3. As these Jewish shepherds hear the words of the angel little doubt is left that all their hopes and dreams had finally been realized.
4. The announcement is not wrapped in mysticism it is tied directly to concrete events that could be easily verified.
B. Though the announcement was one of great news the shepherds would still quake in fear.
1. Undoubtedly, the shepherds were caught completely off guard by the sudden appearance of this angelic messenger.
2. The angel was also accompanied by the glory of God, as we read throughout the Old Testament whenever people encountered the glory of God they were seized with fear.
3. Even looking at it from a strictly practical stand point the reaction of the shepherds is not unexpected.
4. When one comes face to face with the glory of the Holy God, one becomes conscious of their own sinfulness and their need to worship Him.