The secular Christmas. Gifts. Malls. New Shoes. Toys and more toys. Chestnuts roasting on the open fire. Nat King Cole’s beautiful voice, Santa Claus, Rudolf, and the movie Elf. The hustle and bustle of putting up the tree, getting the lights hanging on the house, the strategically placed mistletoe, traffic and more traffic is how most of the world sees Christmas. The world doesn’t want us to say, “Merry Christmas,” but most businesses would go out of business if it weren’t for that Christmas custom of giving gifts to commemorate the giving of gifts to the Christ child lying in a manger because there was no room in the inn. The world has thoroughly profited by hijacking the celebration of Jesus and now, the same world making money off of Jesus’ birth is offended when we say, “Merry Christmas.” You got to be kiddin’ me!!!!
The religious Christmas. Dressing up for Christmas Eve Communion. Nativity scenes. Children, eyes wide around grandma’s chair, listen to the Christmas story, Christmas Carols that sing of the glorious starry night when shepherds were arrested by celestial singing, “Glory to God in the Highest!” Advent wreaths, Christmas plays, Christmas Caroling from house to house, as followers of Jesus Christ, we love Christmas.
But is there something missing? Something that has been there all along from the day of Jesus’ birth. We have the nativity scene down pretty good. We sound good singing those Christmas Carols, that’s for sure. The Christmas story is almost memorized. But have we missed something? I think we have.
It’s right there in the song of the angels. Jesus was born and the angels appeared to the shepherds out in the fields keeping watch over their sheep. The angel said, “I have come to bring you good news of great joy.” Alright. Alright…so you are a King James kind of person….that’s fine. The angel said, “I bring you good tidings of great joy.” Sheesh. I hope you are happy now. It’s that word ‘news’ or ‘tidings.’ The original word means to announce, to declare, to preach, to evangelize. The birth of our Savior was and is BIG NEWS. But news is to be told, announced, declared, preached. It could be said that we are doing all of these things, but that last one ‘to evangelize’ means to convert to the faith. Isn’t this why Jesus came? He did not suddenly appear on Earth in His glorified body. He came as a man through the womb of a woman that He might live as a man. Only as a man, sinless man, would He qualify to satisfy the punishment due to all mankind because of sin. Jesus coming as a baby is not simply a story to be told. It is not simply news to be repeated. It is the foundation of salvation. Without this birth, all of mankind would have been helpless to escape the wrath of God because of the sin in the world.
Because of this baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in the manger, surrounded by the barn animals and smell, every sin we commit can be tossed into Heaven’s sea of forgetfulness. Should we fear the wrath of God because of our sin, on Judgment Day, we might start babbling like a crazy fool all the sins we have committed asking for mercy, but mercy was already given. From the moment Adam and Eve took a bite to the moment appeared to Mary to the cries of a newborn child, mercy has already been given. And to all who shall believe on the name of Jesus, every sin is washed away. And it all starts with this baby born of a virgin. Evangelism…this is what’s been missing.
To tell the story of Jesus, we mustn’t let this be forgotten, God Incarnate, Jesus, born to a woman, raised as a man, came to Earth because only a man could take man’s punishment that whosoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life. Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, but what an opportunity we have to tell our friends, our family, our co-workers the purpose of the birth. This is the real news. Every time the family gathers around the tree, the dinner table, the coffee table, don’t just read the story of His birth, remind people the purpose of His birth.
The birth of Christ is without a doubt a reason to celebrate, but isn’t there more. The angels tried to explain it to the shepherds. His birth was to mean peace and good will from God to man like no other time in history, not because He was born, but for the reason He was born. For all who believe, in fact any who believe, they shall encounter the Prince of Peace and the favor of the Lord. This is why it was news. This baby was going to open the storehouses of Heaven like in a new way, a new dispensation of glory like nothing the world had ever seen.
This year, with people thinking so much about Jesus, or at least hearing His name at the mall over and over again along with Santa’s from the Christmas music in every store, let’s tell the story every chance we get, but let’s tell the whole story. Maybe, this is the greatest gift: the missing part of the Christmas story, the reason God rested in the arms of a girl so young.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (ESV)
Heavenly Father, help me to tell the story. In this day of political correctness, the church has been filled with fear to speak about Christ. Help me to be bold. Help the church to be bold. Let us love the world enough to tell the story, the whole story. Let this Christmas be a time of salvation for someone as we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. -Amen.