They say it’s “the most wonderful time of the year,” and of course I agree! How about you? Yes, with the hustle and bustle, the weather and music, along with family and gifts from the sacred to the secular, this is a very unique seasonal experience. As believers we reflect, remember and get refocused on the great incarnation. This is when the promises of salvation were fulfilled with the coming Messiah as a babe in the manger. Nonbelievers can enjoy the joy of giving along with the traditions of Saint Nick and roasting chestnuts on an open fire, but I’ve come to see Christmas now as so much more.
When I was young, I just thought of what I was going to get for Christmas. As I got older, it was about what others wanted for Christmas. But what the message of Christmas is really about is what God knows we need for Christmas, not solely about what we want. It is not just about the present and the future, but about the past as well.
You see in Luke 2:8-14, “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the LORD appeared to them, and the glory of the LORD shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the LORD. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
In the middle of those verses after the angel says, “do not be afraid,” come the three phrases that give a glimpse of what I believe is the breadth, height, width and depth of the gospel.
First is the “Good News,” second is “Great Joy” and third, “For all the people.”
So, the “Good News.” Is it just for us now? I think not. Think about Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and countless many Old Testament Prophets, Kings and others who were told of the Good news, believed in the promise, but waited for the fulfillment. This Good News, in God’s providence, was for them as well. This even goes back to the Garden. In the midst of the curse, God promised redemption. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." Genesis 3:15 promises that redemption. Have you ever thought of the Good News going back that far?
“Great Joy.” NOT just joy, but GREAT joy. The Sovereign God of all creation entered into time with the fulfillment for the ages backwards and forwards. This is the pinnacle of celebration! Sin will soon finally meet its match. Eternal redemption had entered temporal time. The demonic world could not, and would not drown out the magnificent wonder of God’s impeccable timing. In today’s culture, is our Great Joy lost in the hustle and bustle and the dizzying routines of our traditional habit filled lives?
“For all the people.” Not just now, not just in the past, but think of those who will come to know Christ in the future! Is that God’s reality to us? Or is that just wishful thinking? Do we think in terms that the message from God is for ALL the people? Not just the people like us, but the people who are different from us? From every tribe, every nation, the Gospel is the only message that transcends culture, politics and ethnicities. It is the only message that is universal in its appeal, but conditional in its acceptance. Through God’s permissive will, He allows all people to somehow hear in some shape or fashion this universal message. Do we think in terms of ALL people? Today’s culture forces us to think in terms of denominations, political divides and cultural norms and acceptance. God’s message is for all people.
So then, the Christmas message, the Good News with Great Joy for All the people, sets humanity up for the undeniable sacrifice of the babe born in a manger to be the lamb slain for the sins of the world! May this Christmas be a reminder that the God of all ages still calls willing hearts to the good news of great joy for all the people! May our souls be lifted by this, our spirits be encouraged by this, our bodies be submitted to this, and our minds be renewed with the one hope, the one truth, and the one purpose from which all other things flow—that is: the Christmas message. To God be the glory, great things He is still doing!
Oh, and by the way, consistent fellowship plus engaging discipleship should inspire intentional evangelism. HOW ABOUT THAT FOR A New Year’s resolution?