What is the Christmas story all about? It is certainly NOT about:
- A young boy who desperately wants a B-B Gun
- Santa with Muscles
- Santa moving to Miami to escape the cold
- Santa’s Elf
- Decorating your house with a million lights
We see a lot of movies and television stories around Christmas time with these and many other themes. The giving and receiving of gifts is a big theme as well. As a matter of fact, why do we give and, hopefully, receive gifts around Christmas time?
The truth is that Christmas – the very first Christmas – was the greatest gift ever given. If you receive this Christmas gift, then all other gifts you receive for the rest of your life pale in comparison.
This gift was so great, God send His angels to announce it to the world:
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” 15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:8-15, NIV)
The angels announced to the shepherd what we now call The Christmas Story. It is one filled with marvel, wonder, and praiseworthy things. Its significance reminds me of an all too common event that I remember from my childhood.
On the playground at school there always seemed to be at least one bully — you know, the boy that was a little bit bigger than the others and always had to have his way. Another boy would confront the bully and it would lead to the showdown. The bully would draw a line in the sand and dare the boy to step over the line. The boy knows if he steps over the line, he will probably get punched in the nose. If not, he will be humiliated by the other boys and the bully will always get his way. At some point, you just have to step over that line…
In the eternal battle for righteousness, Satan dealt humanity a stinging blow through his successful temptation of Adam and Eve. He led them to choose their own sin over God’s righteousness. God’s most awesome achievement appeared to be completely lost. Satan had drawn his line in the sand. But because of His great love for us, God made the momentous decision to step over the line. So the birth of Christ is the spiritual equivalent of God stepping over the line to confront, once for all, and defeat the plan of Satan to destroy humanity through sin. God went way beyond the bounds of what was expected to do what was needed to redeem humanity — that would be you and I.
Christmas is that time when God stepped over the line of eternity to take on a human nature Himself that He might be your Savior in time and for eternity.
- Christmas heralds a time in which God chose to take away our fear of Him.
- Christmas shouts God’s message of great, joyful news.
- Christmas announces God’s mighty blessing is for all people.
- Christmas reminds us that Almighty God came to us cloaked in humanity just like us.
- Christmas affirms the truth of God’s word and His faithfulness to deliver on all His promises.
- Christmas reveals God’s promised Deliverer from sin who has come to bring salvation to all who will believe.
Let’s look at this message the angels announced to the shepherds that we might understand the awesome significance of the Christmas story…
Do not be afraid … (Luke 2:10, NIV)
1. Christmas heralds a time in which God chose to take away our fear of Him.
After Adam and Eve sinned against God, they were afraid of him. They no longer enjoyed the intimate friendship with God that they once knew. “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” (Gen 3:8, NKJV) When God appeared to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai, His presence provoked such fear that the Israelites told Moses they didn’t want God to speak to them: “…Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.” (Deut 18:16, NKJV) Instead they wanted an intermediary like Moses (Deut. 18:16-18). Sin has the effect of producing shame and guilt in us, and rightly so — despite what modern psychology tells us. The shame of sin is what causes fear in our hearts for God is holy (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 15:4) and a consuming fire of righteousness (Exo. 19:18; Heb. 12:29).
Christmas is that time when God did what was needed to take away our fear of Him by dealing with our problem of sin. Sin separates us from God and from one another. Sin causes us to be afraid of getting caught, afraid of retribution, afraid of humiliation. But love joins us together. God loved us enough to send His only begotten Son to give His life as a ransom for you. Dying for your sins, He made the way possible to know and love God once again. Just as it was in the garden, through the Christ of Christmas you can love God without fear and without shame.
I bring you good news of great joy … (Luke 2:10, NIV)
2. Christmas shouts God’s message of great, joyful news.
When someone wants to share some good news with you, you can usually tell it in their face and their mannerisms. A while back, my children got some guinea pigs. That may not seem all that exciting to you and I, but to a child it is big deal. Before I was able to pull the car into my parking space, both of them burst into the garage with an urgent message. Their faces were beaming and they were talking so fast, I almost couldn’t understand it. But it didn’t matter that I was somewhat baffled by it — they were extraordinarily happy.
When God drew near to us, He was so happy about it He sent the angels to shout it out! In fact, He shared this wonderful news with a group of people who would be baffled that God had anything to say to them. They were shepherds, the outcasts of the community. People looked down on them because of their occupation. This simply points out just how wonderful is the message of Christmas. The great chorus of heavenly hosts appeared to the lowliest of people and shouted out the message of Christ’s birth. This is the time of God’s favor. In place of fear, God drew near to bring us joy! This is the time when God made provision “…on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14, NKJV) And that is good news.
Because the message of Christmas was good news for the lowliest people — the shepherds — this message of Christmas is good news for you also. Christmas is that time of great joy as it reflects the very heart of God for all humanity — and for you specifically.
…that will be for all the people. (Luke 2:10, NIV)
3. Christmas announces God’s mighty blessing is for all people.
A long time ago, God made a promise to a man named Abraham. In this promise, God told Abraham that his descendants would become a mighty nation. From Abraham was born the nation of Israel which exists even to this day. But God also included a very special promise “… in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:3, NKJV) Later, God narrowed this blessing down by saying “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Gen 22:18, NKJV) The Bible explains that God’s use of the singular word “seed” is a reference to the Savior who was to come into the world — Christ (Gal. 3:16). So the Christ of Christmas who was announced by the angels would be a blessing for ALL people.
So God has a special blessing for you. It is the gift of Christmas. God chose to reach out to you in love and give you the most mighty blessing indeed — the gift of forgiveness and eternal life. He wrapped this precious gift up in the form of a baby lying in a manger.
Be sure not leave this gift sitting on your front porch for someone to come along and steal. Bring it inside your house and open it up.
has been born to you … (Luke 2:11, NIV)
4. Christmas reminds us that Almighty God came to us cloaked in humanity just like us.
God understands the need we have to relate to one another in person. Some things you just cannot do through email or text messages – like asking your girlfriend to marry you, getting an illness examined by a doctor, or spending time with someone who is hurting.
Nevertheless, we try to substitute the internet for the personal touch:
- How many times have you gotten into trouble by sending an email and having it misconstrued?
- How many times have you tried to explain something to someone in an email and ended up sending emails back and forth, back and forth because they neither read completely nor understood what you were trying to say?
- Texting is a rampant practice of communicating today. But how many times have you spent far more time trying to type a message on your crazy cell phone than it would have taken to just dial the person and say what you had to say?
The personal touch is important and necessary. Christmas is that wondrous time when God drew near to us by identifying with us completely, by speaking to us in our own language, by meeting you and I right where we are. As the marvelous Christmas rendition of Handel’s Messiah rings out, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isa 9:6, NIV)
God — who never stopped being God — was born a man, a perfect man, that He might fully reveal Himself to us, that we might behold His glory (John 1:14) without fear and without dying. Because Jesus Christ was born that wonderful Christmas night, you and I can have the privilege of friendship with God forever.
The ultimate Christmas gift is a personal friend. A baby for whom Simeon would later praise God saying:
…my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel. (Luke 2:30-32, NKJV)
Think about it – Simeon personally embraced His Savior. Have you personally embraced the LORD Jesus?
Throughout your life, having embraced the LORD Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can find a friend who will talk to you when no one else seems to care. Through Christ, God is your friend who loves you forever, knows you completely, guides you at home and at work, who won’t quit until all of His goodness rubs off on you and you are transformed into one with character of Christ.
Today in the town of David … This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:11-12, NIV)
5. Christmas affirms the truth of God’s word and His faithfulness to deliver on all His promises.
God revealed to lowly shepherds that the Savior of all people for all time had been born. The One of whom it was prophesied:
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2, NKJV)
With a host of angels singing God’s praises, God even went one step further with these shepherds by giving them a very straightforward sign — the Babe would be wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feed-trough. Quite an unusual spot for a baby! This would be an obvious confirmation to these lowly shepherds that this was no dream. God Himself had spoken to them. And God Himself had fulfilled was He had promised to do so long ago.
Christmas is a testimony to the truth of God and the faithfulness of God. He will never abandon you. He loves you too much and is too good not to intervene in your life. Let Christmas be your sign as well that God not only loves you but He is and always will be faithful to you.
… a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11, NIV)
6. Christmas reveals God’s promised Deliverer from sin who has come to bring salvation to all who will believe.
Christmas has come to be known as a time for being with your family. It is also a time to be kind to people, even to strangers. But Christmas is much, much more than that. It is the time that God revealed His infinite well of kindness through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior:
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7, NIV)
Christmas is that time when:
- Hope was realized
- Eternity was gained
- Love was fulfilled
God loved you enough to step over the line on your behalf and confront the Evil One. Jesus didn’t get punched in the nose but He was nailed to the cross. It was a role that only God could fill — a perfect man giving His life as a substitute for yours, paying the full penalty of your sins — past, present, and future — on your behalf. Christmas is God our Savior coming to earth to take your sin and give you His righteousness in return. When you are loved that much by Him, you have the knowledge, the motivation, and the power to love others that way also. Let this be Christmas fulfilled in your heart and mine!
Reflect on YOUR life:
If God had never come in person, He would always have seemed ominous, distant, and troubling. But because of the first Christmas, God has revealed Himself to us as close, warm, compassionate, powerful, and good. Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9, NIV) Let this good news of Christ warm your heart this Christmas!
If you would like to know God and have His assurance of forgiveness and eternal life, then follow this link to some information that will help you confirm this decision: The Good News of God’s of GRACE.