"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, good will toward men." (Luke 2:10-14)
This is the season of the year when, whether we wish it or not, we are compelled to think of the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is celebrated all over this nation by believers, unbelievers, skeptics, agnostics and even infidels. I hold it to be one of the greatest absurdities under heaven to think that there is any religion in keeping Christmas or any other holiday. It is even doubtful that the Lord Jesus was born on Christmas day. A relationship with God is not based on keeping days, observing rituals, or continuing ceremonies. A relationship with God is based upon heart faith, loving obedience and personal knowledge of God.
However, I am thankful for the Christmas season for several reasons.
(1) There is enough work in this world and a few days of rest and relaxation is wonderful for working people.
(2) I enjoy the generous spirit of Christmas. I wish it could last all year. People laugh a lot during Christmas. We seem to be more aware of each other during this season.
(3) Christmas enables families to get together around the fireplace and to meet old friends again. Children come home and visit their parents.
(4) Christmas is good for the nation's economy. Let's face it, people spend money during the Christmas season and this enables the small businessman to make ends meet and the large businesses to employ more people. The way our economy operates, the quickest way to recession and unemployment is for us to quit buying.
(5) But the chief reason why I am thankful for the Christmas season is that, even with all of the undesirable qualities, at least once a year men and women are brought face to face with the fact that JESUS CHRIST THE LORD DID COME INTO THIS WORLD. Now, it is our business to find out who He was, why He came into the world, and what He did while He was here; and I might add, where He is now.
This first Christmas carol sung by the angels of God was brief, but it was fitting that they should sing it for it was written by Jehovah-God and was a message from the Lord Himself to His people.
The angels sang something which men can understand - something which will change men's lives if they do understand it. The angels were singing about Jesus Christ who was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem's manger and the salvation which He came into this world to work out. And what they said was this:
This message of redemption is "unto you", to all men, rich and poor. Our God will redeem a people. He says, out of every kindred, nation, tongue and people on the earth. He is not the saviour of the Jews, nor the Gentiles, nor the Catholics, nor the Protestants, but of all who will believe. This is part of the "good news" (the gospel) that whosoever will may take this water of life." The only thing that keeps any person from coming to Christ is that person's unwillingness to come!
The Lord Jesus Christ was born to Jewish parents. Both his mother and His foster father were descendants of David. The Messiah must come through David to fulfill all of the types, prophecies and promises made by God to the chosen people in the Old Testament.
Jesus Christ is "that prophet" of whom Moses wrote. He is the "the passover" which Israel celebrated. He is "the sin-offering" to which every Jewish sacrifice pointed.
When the angel came to Joseph to tell him that the woman to whom he was engaged was with child he said, "This Holy Thing is the Son of God and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins."
If words mean anything, the purpose for Christ coming to this world in the likeness of sinful flesh was not to preach, to heal, to set an example only, but to save us from our sins. He is the Saviour! He is Christ THE LORD.
Jesus Christ is no ordinary man. He is God incarnate. "God was in Christ." He said, "I and the Father are one. He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."
God cannot suffer. God cannot die. God cannot bear sin. Man cannot satisfy. Man cannot give life. Man cannot keep the law. But Jesus Christ as the GOD-MAN (God in human flesh) can both suffer and satisfy. He can keep the law and bear our sin and come forth to give life to those for whom He died. Unto you is born of woman, under the law, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. God is reconciled. The law is honored and God's justice is satisfied.
That's glad tidings of great joy.
The first lesson to learn from the angels' carol is that salvation is God's highest glory. God is glorified in every drop of dew that sparkles in the morning sun. He is glorified in every bird that sings. He is glorified in all that He has made. But God's greatest glory is in showing mercy and grace to sinners in Christ. The death of Christ glorifies His love, His grace, His wisdom and His mercy. Moses cried, "Lord, show me your glory." God replied, "I will make My goodness to pass before you. I will be merciful." His goodness is His glory.
There was no peace in the garden where Adam fell. Since our father fell there has been no peace within us or without us. "Your sins have separated you and your God." Our war with heaven is because of our sins. The natural mind is enmity toward God.
The Prince of Peace has come. The treaty is signed at Bethlehem. Christ Jesus, our representative, fulfilled every requirement at Calvary. Every jot and tittle of God's law is fulfilled by Christ, the man, and on the cross of Calvary He paid the ransom price with His own blood. The war is over. Welcome home, weary pilgrim! Welcome to the Father, rebellious son! Welcome to the throne, sinful traitor!
When we learn this carol we can sing with the angels of glory "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
"Glory to God in the highest" is an old, old song; the angels had sung that from before the foundations of the world. But, now, they sang a new song before the throne of God: for they added this stanza - "On earth, peace." Christ is our peace. He is the holy peace between the pardoned sinner and God the pardoner. THIS IS THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE!
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