Sinners, wrung with true repentance,
Doomed for guilt to endless pains,
Justice now revokes the sentence,
Mercy calls you, break your chains
“Angels from The Realms of Glory” by James Montgomery (Music by Henry T. Smart)
This may be one of the most underwhelming (and underrated) Christmas hymns. I’ve heard it for years but the lyrics never grabbed me like they did last year. The second half of this stanza is so powerful:
Justice now revokes the sentence. Mercy calls you, break your chains.
Fairness. Justice. We often cry out for these valiant, noble causes. In fact, God calls us to “do justly and to love mercy” in Micah 6:8. Yet, what do we want for ourselves? Do we want justice? Do we want God to treat us fairly?
Or do we want Mercy?
Let’s look at our situation. We are all sinners and because of that we are unable to commune with God. Our indictment comes in Romans 3:23:
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
This applies to all mankind. And what is the sentence for this sin?
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
But. That is one of the most hopeful words in the Bible. Yes, we earn death in the form of eternal separation from God. Yet, He gives us a gift of life, eternal life, in Christ.
Jesus came into this world as a baby for the purpose of the cross and resurrection in order to reconcile us to the Father. This was His mission.
that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19
This is why the angel had such good news to proclaim to the shepherds in the fields.
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11
Justice is a person: Jesus the Christ. His death revoked our sentence.
Because of His death, we now have he choice.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
Will you break your chains? Will you believe?
For Thought & Discussion:
- Why Did I Write this?
- What are your thoughts about this stanza?
- Can you think of any other hymns or songs with similar themes?
- Read the entire case as outlined by the Apostle Paul: The Book of Romans
- Listen to the track by Downhere on Spotify
- Listen to the track by Steven Curtis Chapman on Spotify
- Hymn-Theology: Kiss A Guilty World in Love
- See also:
- Are there any other verses that back up this hymn theologically?
- Have you used this song lately? Have you explained it?
- Wikipedia Entry
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.