Till He Appeared


Matthew 2:1-11

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw His star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:

‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
    are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a Ruler will come from you
    who will be the Shepherd for My people Israel.’”

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” 

After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the Child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The beloved Christmas Carol, O Holy Night, was written by Placide Cappeau (October 25, 1808 – August 8, 1877). He was a French poet and wine merchant. It was later put to music by Adolphe Adam. A local clergyman ask Cappeau to write a poem for Christmas. Even after the poem was set to music, it was rejected by the church and did not become popular until years later.

Today, I want to take the time to read this great poem and then we will listen to it in song and perhaps hear some things we have never heard before.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born…

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming, With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand. So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming, Here come the wise men from the Orient land. The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger; In all our trials born to be our friend. He knows our need, to our weaknesses no stranger, Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name. Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever…

There is one phrase I want you to listen for, “Long lay the world in sin and error pinning, Till He appeared and the soul felt it’s worth.”

{Play Josh Groban’S version with scenes from the NATIVITY}

Someone was interviewing a Seminary graduate and they ask him, “If we call you as our pastor, what would be your purpose?”  Without a moments hesitation, he said, “To change the world.”Yes,” said the interviewer, “ultimately that is our goal but what is your immediate goal?” He said, “To change the world.”

Actually, this should be every believer’s purpose.

Getting back to O Holy Night and that second line“Long lay the world in sin and error pinning.” We don’t use the word pinning any more but it was word that was used when I was young…we referred to a person pinning away. It simply means, that a person has lost hope and is slowly dying. It may be due to grief, sickness, an unrequited love. It is basically a state of hopelessness. Now, lets put the entire phrase together…Long lay the world in sin and error pinning, Till HE appeared and the soul felt its worth.

  • We were stumbling in darkness–until He appeared.
  • We were lost, like sheep without a shepherd–until He appeared.
  • We had no hope–until He appeared.
  • We had no joy or peace–until He appeared.
  • We had no freedom–until He appeared.
  • We had no Christmas–until He appeared.
  • We had no Easter–until He appeared.
  • We had no ministries of mercy–until He appeared.

Jesus changed everything and continues to change lives today. But whereas Shepherds and Wise Men celebrated His birth: Herod tried to kill him and the Jewish religious leaders did not even pursue the lead. They were not even curious about this new born King of the Jews. Later, they would reject Jesus all together.

Why so much hatred for Jesus? I think the answer is found in John 3… “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.


Great story in Our Daily Bread last Wednesday. A p0liceman stopped a woman because her child was not in the required child’s seat. Legally, he could have written her a ticket but that was the last thing she needed. Instead, he asked her to meet him at a department store where he bought her a child’s booster seat. The mother was going through a difficult time and could not afford a seat. Although she legally deserved a fine, she got a free gift instead. An act of kindness from a policeman.

That’s us folks, we deserve a fine, a penalty, punishment but because of God’s mercy we got a gift, the greatest gift–Salvation through the LORD Jesus Christ. Let Jesus change you world this Christmas.