Stop! Listen! Pay attention! This is important! This is essentially what the word “hark” means. When the angels appeared to the shepherds to announce Christ’s birth, their appearance to the shepherds was a multi-sensory “hark” experience. They couldn’t help but stop, listen, and pay attention to what they angels had to say. It was that important!
But what was it about their message that was worthy of that “hark” moment? Why did it matter that a baby had been born that day in Bethlehem? After all, babies are born all the time. Was it the novelty of that fact that God had chosen to put on flesh and walk among us, or was there an even more important message in the announcement of the birth of Jesus?
Jesus becoming man was more than just a cool social experiment of having God walk among us. It was the moving forward of God’s rescue plan. This baby we celebrate at Christmas would eventually become a grown man and would finally provide what the first verse in Hark! The Herald Angels Sing declares:
Hark! The herald angels sing,“Glory to the new born King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Before Christ, we are dead in our sins and subject to God’s wrath. This is made clear in Ephesians 2:1–3. In essence, we have no peace with God because we haven’t been reconciled to Him. We don’t use the word “reconciled” a lot in modern language. The idea behind reconciliation is to make a bad relationship right and to bring warring parties back together. So how does that happen with us and God?
God, who is rich in mercy, gave us Jesus so that we could be made right with Him (Ephesians 2:4–9). Furthermore, Romans 5:1–11 tells us that Jesus’ death on the cross in our place reconciles us back to God and gives us peace with Him. There is no greater peace in life than being reconciled to God, and Jesus’ birth was the moment that put God’s peace plan for us into motion.
Not only can we have peace with God through Jesus, but there is a second kind of peace we receive through Him. It doesn’t take long to look at the news headlines each day to know we live in a world that is in desperate need of peace. Sometimes we can feel unsettled, anxious, and fearful of the world today, but Jesus told us in John 16:32,33 that it shouldn’t be surprising when we experience trouble in this world. The good news is that, when we’ve been reconciled to God through Jesus, He helps us overcome the world. In short, He gives us peace that passes all understanding in our world today (Philippians 4:6,7).
So why does it matter that Jesus was born as a baby? Why do we need to stop at Christmas time and pay attention to this news? Because we live in a world that is devoid of peace. And Jesus came to give us peace with God and in our world. That’s worth paying attention to, and worth sharing with others who haven’t experienced this peace.
Matt Vosberg is the Pastor of Student Ministries. He and his family moved to Columbus in 2009. His wife, Marianne, is a native Buckeye, while Matt hails from northern Indiana. Together they have three young children. Both attended and met at Grace College. Matt worked for Youth for Christ in northern Indiana for four years before serving as a Youth Pastor in Pennsylvania for five years. Matt studied Youth Ministry and Counseling (Grace College). His life will never be the same after his beloved Chicago Cubs finally won the championship that eluded them for 108 years.