Most Christians today probably can’t imagine Christmas on any other day than December 25th, but it wasn’t always that way. In fact, for the first three centuries of Christianity’s existence, Jesus Christ’s birth wasn’t celebrated at all. The first official mention of December 25th, as a holiday honouring Jesus’ birthday, appears in an early Roman calendar from AD 336. (source: history.com)
Would you please take a few minutes to review Luke 2:8-20? No dates are given for the birth of Christ here. Many other possible dates for his birth have been proposed but the Lord would have made this conclusive if it was important. What is important is that God became flesh and dwelled amongst us. Why did He do this?
God reaches out to sinners.
An angel of the Lord announced, “I bring you good news.” I have both good news and bad news. Let’s talk about the bad news first. News becomes good when it arises out of bad news. We can discern news as good—when we can compare and contrast it with bad news. The bad news is that sin, corruption and death entered the world through disobedience and rebellion. When sin entered the world through Adam, and when you and I sin, there is a sentence that matches our crime—death. The Lord, who is perfectly sinless and perfectly just, must declare a sentence that fits the crime.
Isn’t it fascinating that the angels appeared not to kings and priests, but to shepherds? Shepherds were social outcasts amongst the Jews, considered ceremonially unclean because they would come into regular contact with animal carcasses and unclean animals. Because they were regular guys who worked out of town for weeks on end, they couldn’t make it to the temple to go through the process of “being declared clean” again.
Stop and think about who gave Jesus the most grief—religious people. In contrast, the shepherds blazed a trail that night for the tax collectors and sinners who would search for Jesus 30 years later. They sprang into action and headed to Bethlehem to see the “One” the angels told them about.
John Newton, who wrote the words for “Amazing Grace” in 1772, concluded, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.”
Do you confess that you have sinned? Will you recognize that you are a sinner? If yes, you are not far from an honest, meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ.
God wants to bring together sinners and the Saviour.
In a world that is saturated with bad news, it is refreshing to hear good news! Let’s take a closer look at the Good News or theGospel. The Bible is filled with hope as it describes God’s solution to our sin and shortcomings. The sooner we confess we are sinners, the sooner we can meet the Saviour. While Jesus was very guarded in His conversations with self-righteous people, He talked much more freely with those who genuinely wanted to hear what He had to say. As a result, sinners’ lives were transformed dramatically while religious types were left unchanged, even hardened in their ways.
In contrast to Satan slithering into the Garden of Eden to bring down humanity with his sly temptation, the angel bursts into the earthly realm with news straight from the throne room in heaven. The angel of the Lord (possibly, the archangel Gabriel) was then backed up by a heavenly choir singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.” The angel of the Lord was sent to deliver the good news of great joy.
While sin and death had dominated human history for 4,000 years—at a strategic time foreordained and appointed by God—a child was born by whom, and through whom, the universe was made. God reached out to us—not by shouting from heaven, but by becoming one of us!
The good news broadcast from heaven to earth is not about the latest political leader, celebrity or athlete who is here today and gone tomorrow. Apart from academics, most people still refer to history as B.C. (Before Christ) or A.D., Anno Domini, a Latin phrase meaning “in the year of our Lord,” referring to the year of Christ’s birth. Someone has concluded, “The arrival of one single baby changed the world’s calendar. He can change your heart and life as well.”
God’s justice and mercy merge perfectly in Jesus Christ. God could not simply turn His back on the sin in you and me because He wants to have a close relationship with us. It would require a human without sin to bridge the gap between the holy, sinless God and unholy, sinful people. Wages are earned, but a gift is freely given. What greater gift could there be than eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord? This gift will change our lives—if we receive it.
Did you know that Jesus Christ came, not simply to be a cute, cuddly baby in a manger, but to die for our sins? Have you accepted Him as your Saviour and as your Lord?
We are cordially invited to receive the greatest gift of all time.