The decorations at the stores and shopping malls tell us that Christmas is just around the corner. We are about to begin again the round of carol Services and Nativity plays. The Christmas card list is dusted off for another year and, in my case, I scan to see if any of my friends who appear there are no longer alive. I debate yet again if I will make my own ‘cards’ or buy those ones that help some good cause. All in all there is quite a bit to be done at Christmas time.
If you regularly preach at this time and if, like me, you have been at it for forty years there aren’t too may Christmas-type verses left to preach on. For all that, it is hard to beat the account of the announcement to the shepherd by the angel of the birth of the Lord Jesus.
“Behold I bring you good news of great joy for all people. To you this day in the city of David your Saviour has been born. Christ the Lord.”
The good news of great joy for all people is about a rescue– your Saviour has been born.
That the good news is about a rescue implies that I am in danger and need such a Saviour. The Bible makes it clear that such is, indeed, the case. That it is for all people implies that we are all in the same boat. And the Bible make it clear that this, also, is the case: all of us, in one way or another, have said ‘No’ to God as God. We have chosen to exclude him from his central place in our lives. We set ourselves up as rival authorities. We act as if we were God. This has brought the rightful wrath of God on us (Rom 1:18) and we need to be rescued from this situation.
However, there is good news. God has taken action on our behalf. He has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world (John 3:16). The Lord Jesus, in his death for us, takes the punishment that our sin deserves. In his resurrection he shows us that that sin-bearing death is sufficient and that he is undoubtedly Christ the Lord. When we repent of our stupid attitude and place our trust in the Lord Jesus we are assured of God’s forgiveness.
It is good news of great joy for all people who are willing to accept it.
It is bad news for the proud and ignorant who reject the Saviour! This means that the wrath of God remains on them (John 3:36). For such there is only bad news of judgment and hell of which the Lord Jesus warns us (Lk 12:1-11).
This Christmas will be either good news or bad news depending on what you do with the fact that your saviour has been born.
I hope it will be good news of great joy for you.
Have a really happy Christmas!
From the Vault of the ACR, first published December 1, 1999.