“Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God” (Luke 2:13).
It means without warning or prior announcement. One moment the angels weren’t there, and then they were everywhere. Let me amend that last statement a bit. The word “suddenly” means the angels were nowhere to be seen, and all at once they filled the sky. Some questions come to mind at this point. If we had been there, would we have seen the angels? Could the people in Bethlehem see the angels? Could they be seen in Jerusalem—six miles away? Could the sound of their voices be heard in other places, or did the angels reveal themselves only to the shepherds? We cannot fully answer these questions, but this much is certain: The angels were really there, and the shepherds really did hear them.
It is impossible to miss the supernatural element in the birth of Jesus. Angels pop up all over the Christmas story. An angel tells Mary she will give birth to Jesus. An angel tells Joseph to call his name Jesus. An angel announces the birth of Christ to the shepherds, and then the angelic choir serenades them. An angel warns Mary and Joseph to flee to Egypt. An angel tells them when it’s safe to return to Israel.
Sometimes we need a “divine disruption” so God can speak to us. When Christ came to this sad world, God sent the angels to say, “Pay attention. Something big is happening here!”
If our greatest need had been education, God would have sent a teacher.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent a banker.
If our greatest need had been advice, God would have sent a counselor.
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent an entertainer.
But since our greatest need was forgiveness, God sent a Savior. His name is Jesus. He is Christ the Lord, the Son of God who came from heaven to earth.
Are you overcome with worry? Weighed down with fear? Are you afraid for your future? God’s answer to your fear is not a theory or a doctrine. God’s answer is not a seminar or a book to read.
God’s answer is wrapped up in a baby named Jesus. And not just any Jesus, but only the Lord Jesus Christ revealed in the New Testament. He alone is the Lord from heaven. He alone can save us. All that God has for us is wrapped up in his Son. No matter what difficulties we face or the decisions we must make, in the end God leads us back to that simple one-word answer: “Jesus.”
In an interview with David Frost on PBS, Billy Graham said he hoped the last word he uttered before dying was simply this: “Jesus.” We can’t do any better than that.
Heavenly Father, may faith rise to banish our fear. If God be for us, and if God be with us, who can be against us? Amen.
Musical bonus: We don’t often hear Angels We Have Heard on High as a solo. Here’s a contemporary arrangement by Laura Story.