Dr. Mike Murphy
So many times, I have wondered what it must have been like. To have been present in the small town of Judea on that incredible night. To have watched the crowds as they filled the city. To have heard the first cry of an infant born. As those in Bethlehem that night looked into the peacefulness of the sky, I wonder if any knew how those cries would soon and forever change the world?
As beautiful as the stars must have shown that night, I also wonder what the view was like that night from the midst of those stars. What must the heavens have seen as they looked down on the world that night? What sights and images must have filled the eyes of the angels? As they so intently gazed down on what was happening in that ordinary little town, what extraordinary thoughts and emotions must have filled their minds?
For years the angels had proclaimed that night. And I believe they must have been overwhelmed each time they had been called by God to announced those words. To tell us of a day when the Lord would again stand in our midst, walking each step we walk, feeling each emotion we feel. Of a day when He would offer His life so that we might live. It is one thing to declare those words, but to watch as those words took shape, as each promise came to life, must have caused the heavens to stand still. They watched that night as the Lord not only showed His love, but poured out His love. Pouring out every ounce of that love to the most undeserving and unappreciated creature that is called man. As they looked down on the earth that night, they must have realized that if the Lord was willing to pour out His love on this rebellious creature of humanity, there was no limit to His love. They served a Lord each day with a love as endless as the heavens in which they stood.
Countless years before, they had watched as this creature was created. Formed from the dust of this world, but given a mind and a will that stretched beyond this world. A mind to understand His Word, and the will to choose or to reject Him. A will that each of them also shared. A will that had led many of their fellow brothers to turn from God, to follow one who tried to make himself like God. A will, where the choice of each became a reality that night. A will that could be seen that night, as they watched the Lord crying as a newborn baby in a manger. A will, that I believe, caused the eyes of many of those angels to be swell with tears of joy, as they watched the truth they had chosen being fulfilled. A will, that I also believe, led a third of the angels to have their eyes filled with tears of sorrow and despair, as they realized where their rejection would soon lead. If the old saying were true, that the tears of those in the heavens fill the raindrops of the skies, then the world would have flooded again that night .
“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”(Luke 2 10-12), the angel joyously proclaimed to the shepherds that night. And as the angel spoke, a magnitude of other angels gathered and added voice, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”(Luke 2:14). In each word they proclaimed, you can hear their tears. In each shout, you can feel their joy.
In the midst of their tears, the angels rushed to the shepherds that were in the field outside of Bethlehem that night. Tears of joy, that lead the shepherds to hurry to see the Child whom the angel had proclaimed. Many may ask, in the midst of their joy, why would the angels rush to proclaim His birth to these shepherds in the field? Why would they not have rushed to the great halls of the world’s kings? Or have hurried to the Temple, to proclaim their joy to the priests? The angels knew the shepherds of Bethlehem were unlike any other shepherd, as the flock they keep was no ordinary flock. In a field outside of Bethlehem, stood Migdal Edar, the Tower of the Flock. The place where the lambs destined for the Temple were born and raised. Where every firstborn male lamb was set aside, inspected for blemishes, and raised to be sent to Jerusalem as a holy sacrifice. The men who the angels came to that night, were the keepers and protectors of these precious sheep. They would raise these sheep, then take these sheep to the same place where Abraham had once offered his son to the Lord. These shepherds would watch as the lambs they brought would offer their blood so that atonement could be given.
Who better for the angels that night to first speak and lead to see the Child, than the ones who knew a Perfect Lamb when they saw it? It was by no mistake that the angels rushed that night to the shepherds, and shouted with joy as they spoke to these men. Telling these men that the Firstborn Lamb of God had just been born. A Lamb that would one day make the jobs of these shepherds necessary no more. A Perfect Lamb that would one day shed His blood to atone for all sin. A Lamb that John the Baptist would one day see(John 1:29). A Lamb that would one day be proclaimed the Good Shepherd to twelve who served at His feet. A Lamb that would one day be the Passover Lamb, taking away every sin that man had ever known. A Lamb that filled the eyes of the angels that night with tears, tears of both joy and of despair. A Lamb that brought to life the words they had heard the Lord speak to Jeremiah, “I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord. “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely, and do justice and righteousness in the land.”(Jeremiah 23:4-5). A Lamb would would be our King. A Lamb, whose image could not be blurred by the vision of their tears.
As the angels looked down that night, they knew that each word they had proclaimed to man now shouted with joy, announcing why the Lamb had to be born. Born because of mankind’s sin. To take away the wall of sin that separated the face of God from man. Knowing that God so longed to get back to the Garden, finding Himself again in the midst of a personal relationship with each of us..
The angels knew the Lamb must be born so that man could see God’s perfect character. The Lamb would reveal to all, God’s perfect plan for man, and God’s divine purpose for each of our lives. They knew that Lamb would bring mankind a perfect and lasting sacrifice. Without the blood of the Perfect Lamb, humanity would be left to its’ own failure. Death would mark our doom. And without the Lamb, eternity could offer no hope.
The angels knew the birth of the Lamb would bring to mankind a perfect and needed Intercessor. One who would not write God’s words on pages, but One who would write those words on each of our hearts. They knew the Lamb had to be born to fulfill each promise that God had given us. Each proclamation the angels had brought us, demanded each cry they heard from the Child that night.
The angels knew the Lamb must be born because the Holy Spirit was waiting, waiting to take His place in each of us. Waiting to come to us, so we could voluntarily share a loving and personal relationship with God. And they knew the birth of the Lamb would bring to this world a needed Redeemer. Just as Adam had brought sin into this world, the Lamb would bring hope back to this world. A Lamb that would wipe away our tears of sorrow, and leave us with only tears of joy.
As the angels looked down on the world that night, I have no doubt that tears filled their eyes. As the heavens stood still in silence, the tears must have flowed. Tears of every emotion. Tears of joy. Tears of wonder. Tears of encouragement. Tears of sorrow. Tears of despair. Tears of hope, Tears of promise. Every angel, both those that called Heaven home, and those that had been cast to this earth, felt the tears run down their face that night, as they watched our Lord place Himself in that manger. Tears of awe, as they watched our Lord so vulnerable below, willing to give Himself so this undeserving creature called man might live. Tears of amazement, as they watched His love completely fill the world that night, shining brighter than all the stars He had placed in the sky. As I reflect back on the night the angels cried, I find I share with them in those tears. Tears that leave me to believe that night was indeed holy, but one that left this world far from silent. Tears that humbly take me to a Child that was laid in manger. Tears that remind me of the incredible sacrifice He brought to reality that night, so He could reach someone as undeserving as me.
Praying this Christmas, you share with me a tear.