Scholars refer to the Book of Psalms as “Humanity’s Hymnbook.” There are many messianic psalms predicting certain events in the life of our Lord. Someone quipped that the Bible is actually a “Him book,” because from Genesis to Revelation it is all about Him, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Rev. Herbert Lockyer Jr., wrote a book titled All the Music of the Bible: An Exploration of Musical Expression in Scripture and Church Hymnody dedicated to his father Dr. Herbert W. Lockyer Sr. From the preface, Dr. Herbert Lockyer Sr., writes, “The Bible abounds in praise and reverberates with the music of heaven. Glance over its sacred pages, and you will find that its psalms outweigh its sighs…No matter where you turn in the Bible, melody predominates over misery and songs over sobs.”
Dr. Samuel Dickey Gordon (1859-1936) shares the following in Quiet Talks About Jesus, “A great musician strikes the keynote of a great piece of music, and can skillfully keep it ever sounding its melody through all the changes clear to the end. It has been in my heart to wish that I could do something like that here. If what has come to me has gotten out of me into these pages, there will be found a dominant note of sweetest music—the winsomeness of God in Jesus.”
Dr. Gordon continues, “The voice of Jesus must have been music itself. It speaks once of His singing a hymn. How we would have loved to hear Him sing! But that voice was music at all times, whether in song or speech. Low, modulated, rhythmic, gentle, rich, resonant—wondrous music. Those who have heard Spurgeon and Gladstone almost always speak of the rare musical quality of their voices. So, and more would it be with this Jesus. It has been said that the personality reveals itself in the speech. It reveals itself yet more, and more subtly, in the sound of the voice. The power or weakness of a man is felt in the sound of his voice. The blind have unusual skill in reading character in the voice. Were we wiser we could read men’s character much more quickly in the voice. Children and animals do. The voice that stilled the waves and spoke forgiveness of sins, that drew the babes, and talked out to thousands at once, must have been full of sweetest music and thrilling with richest power.”
George Frederic Handel arrived in London around 1710. He appealed to the masses and his musical accomplishment gained the attention of royalty and nobility of England. Regrettably, he developed an arrogant attitude. His enemies conspired to bring him down. He suffered affliction financially and physically. No doubt his bankruptcy precipitated a severe stroke on April 13, 1737. After some time he began to feel alleviation from his suffering and sensed a resurrection to life again.
Charles Jennens, a noted liberettist, gave Handel a daunting assignment to compose an oratorio using the liberetto he sent. Lexicographers explain that an oratorio is “a musical composition on a religious theme; similar to opera but with no costume, scenery or acting.”
Handel began to write on August 22, 1741. He continued almost non-stop for 24 days. With The Messiah written, Handel went to bed and slept for 11 hours. On the fifth anniversary of his stroke, Handel played The Messiah in Dublin and for the final time with great difficulty in 1759. Interestingly, George Fredric Handel died on the 22nd anniversary of his stoke.
From our text we read, “The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When He comes, He will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He'” (
The oratorio, known as The Messiah, continues to bless countless believers around the world. Using the terminology of a three-part oratorio, we will note several aspects from the life of Jesus Christ.
Prelude: His life before birth (
Remember there was music before the Creation. Jesus was present in Creation (
A. His Ascendancy
Ascendancy means “the quality, fact or state of being in the ascendant; domination; sway.” Lucifer, the son of the morning, challenged the ascendancy of Jesus Christ according to
Is it any wonder that rebellious lyrics are set to music? The original purpose of music was to glorify God, not man.
B. His Appearances (Pre-Incarnate)
Joshua had a visit from our Lord Jesus Christ as we read in
Part One: His Birth (
Dr. Luke recounts the truth of the Christ and His crib. Joseph, His adopted earthly father, and Mary, his earthly mother, procured His crib. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the City of David. Here we see His poverty. Paul writes in
Angels offered declared, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace goodwill toward men” (
Paul reminds us in
Part Two: His Baptism (
From this passage we discover the Christ and His credentials. Jesus’ heavenly Father proclaimed His credentials. Here we see His identity.
Again heaven sang His praises as God the Father said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased” (
A. Jesus’ Identification with Mankind
Paul writes, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (
From His baptism we see Jesus identified with sinful humanity that we might be partakers of His righteousness after His vicarious death and victorious resurrection.
B. Jesus’ Inauguration into Ministry
The Father announced from heaven, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased” (
Part Three: His Burial (
This passage reveals the Christ and His Crypt. A follower, named Joseph of Arimathaea, provided His crypt. Here we see His victory. They buried Jesus in Jerusalem, the city of the great king (
Angels declared, “He is not here, He is risen as He said” (
In the “Forbidden Chapter,” Isaiah writes the following about Jesus, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed…He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked—But with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth” (
Jesus was supposed to be buried with criminals but was buried with the rich. They buried Jesus in the tomb of a rich man of Arimathaea named Joseph.
Matthew records, “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here'” (
John records, “Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, ‘Not one of His bones shall be broken.’ And again another Scripture says, ‘They shall look on Him whom they pierced'” (
Moses records in
Using a musical motif related to the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, I guess you could say it was the day the music died. However, this funeral dirge turned to a song of joy.
Paul declares in
Postlude: His Life After Burial
A. His Appearances (Post-Resurrection)
Jesus appeared in the upper room, etc. He appeared to about 500 people at one time, as Paul records in
B. His Ascension
Dr. Luke chronicles in
Dr. Luke records in
In the gospel that bears his name, John reminds us that the Father has committed all judgment to the Son (
Paul reminds us that one day every knee will bow before Jesus in
Jesus teaches the fear of God, as Dr. Luke records, “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (
Dr. Jerry Vines shares in his book titled SpiritLife about tuning his radio and hearing country music singer Ronnie Milsap singing one of his best-selling singles, “What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life.” A long time ago I heard Ronnie Milsap sing, “It Was Almost Like a Song.” In this song, Milsap tells the story of someone with a broken heart after losing a love interest. Those who resist and reject the overtures of the Holy Spirit will sing a sad song for all eternity.
There are many who welcome a baby in the manger at Christmastime. Of that number few truly repent of sin and trust Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection alone for their salvation.
Dr. Leslie D. Weatherhead (1893-1976) cites Martin Luther (1483-1546), who said, “The heart of religion is in its personal pronoun.” Dr. Weatherhead comments: “I once attended in the Royal Albert Hall, London, a magnificent rendering of Handel’s Messiah by a choir of several hundreds. The friend who accompanied me was a dear saint of God, then in his 70s. When the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ rose to its stupendous heights, ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords,’ my friend could hardly contain himself. The tears were streaming from his clear blue eyes and he whispered to me, ‘That was my Savior they were singing about.’ I shall never forget the meaning he put into that word ‘my.'”
Jack Countryman writes, “May our lips today bear a convincing, convicting and converting testimony of the saving grace of the living Christ. May this Christmas bring to light the coming of the Messiah to show each of us the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. May we share with Him life eternal and experience through His love, the joy and peace that comes with knowing Christ as our personal Savior.”
Don’t miss the Messiah!