5 minutes to read
I don’t know about other states, but it appears to me that we’ve lost the meaning and purpose of Christmas in my state of Meghalaya. To many, Christmas is a time of exchanging gifts, and going to malls for buying new dresses. Many take this day as best for a family outing or a picnic. Now there’s no problem with these things, but what I am concerned about is replacing the message of Christmas with something else. The sad reality is that many Christians have turned Christmas into a time of worldly enjoyment and activities that are very much against the nature of the Christ that they claim to celebrate.
How then should Christmas be celebrated? More than feasting, going on outings, shopping, having picnics, exchanging gifts and so on, I believe that the message of Christmas needs to be celebrated. But what is the message of Christmas (or the message of the Incarnation)? To help us consider this, let me call your attention to Luke 2:8-20 and share a few lessons.
1. The message of Christmas is a message of giving
God gave His son to us (Jn. 3:16). When the shepherds heard the word of the angels, they were told that the Saviour is coming to the world (v.11), “For unto you is born this day… A Saviour who is Christ The Lord” (Lk. 2:11). From Genesis and throughout the Bible, we see that God had promised to send the Saviour (Gen. 3:15), the eternal Son of God who would be born as a man. He would be from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10), and the house of David (1 Sam.7:1-17), born of a virgin (Isa.7:14) in Bethlehem, the city of David. The message of Christmas tells us that in the birth of Jesus, God is fulfilling His word and giving us the [promised] Saviour.
2. The message of Christmas is a message of hope
We read in Luke 2:10 that the angel brought “good news of great joy” for all people. This message, announcing the salvation of God’s people, did not come first to the Pharisees, the educated elite, princes or kings. Instead, it was given to simple shepherds, insignificant ones. Why did God choose shepherds, who were uneducated, and ceremonially unclean outcasts? We see God offering hope to people who were looked down on by the world. The Lamb of God has been born to provide salvation for the world. Praise God that this message has not changed. It is still the same message of hope.
Friends, because of sin we are like those shepherds (Rom.6:23). We were eternally separated from the Holy God, without Christ and without hope in this world. We are all under the wrath of God. But praise God, that instead of punishing us sinners for eternity, He Himself came down in the person of Jesus Christ to open the way for our salvation (Phil.2:6-8). When we look at our sin, we may think we are beyond God’s help, but Christ Himself proclaimed the message of hope and salvation for lost, outcast, condemned, hell-bound sinners like us. In John 6:37, he said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” And so, we thank God for the hope of the gospel. This season, instead of entertaining our friends, let us plead with them earnestly as we offer them the hope of Christmas.
3. The message of Christmas is a God-glorifying message
Soon after the angel proclaimed the message of good tidings, we suddenly see thousands of angels praising God. I find it breathtaking to note that the first beings to worship the incarnate Son of God were not sinners, but the sinless angels of God. Of course, this is not the first time that they worship the Son of God–they had been worshiping the Triune God ever since they came into existence. But still, Luke describes the host of heaven rushing to earth to worship our Savior as He entered the world he created. The angels glorified God, and very soon, we see the shepherds also glorifying and praising God (vs. 20). These acts of glorifying God are forerunners of the worship that we will join in when we spend eternity in the presence of God. The redeemed will join in the angels’ praises and will glorify God for his gift of salvation. And so, as it did for the shepherds, the message of Christmas ought to lead to God being glorified and praised and thanked by those who comprehend the magnitude of God’s work of salvation.
4. The message of Christmas is a message to be made known
The shepherds heard the angelic message, they saw, they heard, and they shared. They were true evangelists. They were the first ones to bear witness to the Saviour of the world. Praise God that He chooses the most unlikely vessels to be the channels of His mercy! I love the words ‘they made known” in the text (Luke 2:17). Interestingly, the angels made the message known to the shepherds and the shepherds spread the news to others, saying that He was the Savior, Christ and Lord. As we consider our Christmas celebration, let us think of ways in which we can make known the message of the gospel. Shall we not do the same as these shepherds? Let us join with the Apostles in Acts 4:20, who said “We cannot stop speaking about what we’ve seen and heard.”
As we celebrate and contemplate the incarnation of our Lord, may our churches clearly proclaim the gospel of God’s generosity and hope, and may we glorify God as we make the message known to a lost world.
Soli Deo Gloria