God has it all figured out. We don’t need to doubt that, yet we do at times, thinking we might have a better idea. God’s wisdom has no boundaries. Don’t you agree this is a powerful statement by Paul. “Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.”
Paul wanted to remind the young church that God’s wisdom was what they should rely upon, even if they didn’t understand it. In that day, “wisdom” would have been ascribed to people having “exalted knowledge” and the ability to share that knowledge in a polished way. I think of “hoity-toity” circles of people with lots of head knowledge not truly enjoying life and looking down at people with less knowledge than them.
Jesus’ birth ushered in the celebration of “noel,” which simply means “born on Christmas.” That’s why we won’t find the word “noel” in the Bible. It does speak of the birth we celebrate on Christmas and is quite a popular word in this carol. It’s good to remember the reason for the season because we often see the Christmas story portrayed in other ways these days. For instance, heartwarming Santa stories, to include one of my favorites, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”
Our Christmas carol today is fun to sing, and there are six verses! I realized that the Lutheran hymnal from when I was a kid adds a sixth, very powerful verse, not found in most other sources. So, we’ll take a look at that today, too! The refrain or chorus is repeated after each verse. It’s simply, “Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, Born is the King of Israel.” If you’re like me, the tune is rushing off your lips!
Jesus is this Child. This Child is God. Why is that so important?
The lyrics of this song will show us. The first verse speaks of Jesus’ kingship. We must haste to bring worship to our King Jesus! This baby was guarded and sang over by an audience of shepherds and angels.
What child is this who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet while shepherds watch are keeping? This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing. haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the son of Mary!
What beautiful images of peace and freedom! God will bring new life to the stump of David. Just as he promised in 2 Samuel 7, a descendant of David will rule forever. The Messiah will come and bring justice and salvation.
If you’ve ever watched new branches sprout from a tree, you know the beauty of seeing life continue, expand, and grow. This new Branch will be so much more fruitful than any branch ever before. This Branch is our promised king, and he will be the fair judge we long for today.
We know that our salvation does not come from anything we do, but what God does. But that doesn’t mean that we’re never rewarded for our behavior this side of heaven. The poetry of David’s song here calls that out!
“The Lord rewarded me for doing right; he restored me because of my innocence.” Despite the human failings we’ve seen David experience, he has sought after God and God’s will for his life. Seeing his own weakness and sinfulness helps us come to grips with our own. God will use even us, imperfect and all!