Songs like “The First Noel” or “Silent Night” are ones I grew up singing for school Christmas concerts or playing on the piano or violin. The melodies were ingrained in my head; the tunes I could easily hum any time of year. As I’ve gotten older, a handful of these familiar songs still stick in my head, but for a different reason. I’m more aware of the words I’m singing and have realized how much Scriptural truth the composers have woven into these classics.
One well-known hymn is “Hark the Herald Angel Sing.” Tucked in the first verse is a theme I’ve been returning to this Advent season:
Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.
The reality of God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ holds so much for us, and at Christmastime we see afresh the transforming truth of God taking on flesh and dwelling among us. One of the truths connected with the incarnation is reconciliation.
By definition, to reconcile means “the restoration of friendly relations.” In some contexts, reconciliation also has to do with accounts and transactions. Today, it is the first definition I want to focus on.
From the Fall, recorded in Genesis 3, we as human beings find ourselves in a ruptured relationship. Because of sin, we are separated, estranged, from the God who created us and loves us. The lament through the ages, rising from a fallen humanity, has been this is not the way it’s supposed to be.
From the beginning, we were made to be in perfect, loving union with the Triune God.
Reflecting on Jesus’ arrival at Christmas brings us to the Gospel of Luke. The news the angel told the shepherds was the hope of reconciliation. God and man can be restored to a right relationship once again! This is made possible because “today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
Because Jesus is fully God and fully man, He alone is able to restore what sin had destroyed.
Jesus’ arrival did not simply indicate He was here to negotiate terms of reconciliation, like a delegate sent from Heaven to “smooth things over” between wayward humans and a perfect God.
Because He is God and man, Jesus in His very person, is our reconciliation.
God and man, long alienated, have been brought together, reconciled, in the person of Christ. God has made the body of our Lord the place God and men meet. (The Incarnation of God)
What a beautiful reason to rejoice this Christmas Day. In Jesus, God and man are no longer estranged. Because of the incarnation – with Christ’s birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension – we can enter once again into perfect relationship with God. By faith in Christ, we who were once enemies of God are welcomed into re-union with Him.
Let us give thanks for the greatest gift of restoration we could ever hope for. Let us worship our wonderful Savior ~ being in Christ places us in the life-giving bond we were created for!
Merry Christmas to you all, dear friends. May the gift of reconciliation in Christ fill you with renewed peace and joy this day!