The carol, “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing,” was written in 1739 by Charles Wesley, who with his brother John Wesley founded the Methodist movement. Although the title of the carol focuses on angels, the verses expound on the role of Jesus Christ as Savior. The last lines explain His purpose: “Mild he lays his glory by / Born that man no more may die / Born to raise the sons of earth / Born to give them second birth.”
Jesus did not remain as a baby in a manger. His purpose was to die in order to provide salvation for the “sons of earth.” Wesley’s words, “mild he lays his glory by,” describe how Jesus set aside His heavenly glory to take on the flesh and blood of humanity.
Today, we move to the Gospel of John. This Gospel does not record the birth of Christ, but instead examines His role as the Son of God and His divine nature.
In chapter 17, Jesus was praying after speaking to His disciples before His crucifixion. He acknowledged His earthly purpose as “finishing the work you [God the Father] gave me to do” (v. 4).
Jesus was given authority over all of humanity (v. 2). Before His birth He was with God the Father “before the world began” (v. 5). J. Oswald Sanders notes, “Jesus was unique among men in that His birth did not mark His origin, but only His appearance as a man on the stage of time.” He was sent with a message to the world (v. 8). Here, Jesus offers a beautiful plea for us before the Father. Later in the chapter, Jesus asks God for the protection and sanctification of His people (v. 19).
Even in the hours before He went to the Cross, Jesus Christ our Savior was focused not on Himself, but on the world He was born to save.