We are bombarded daily with information and announcements – some relevant, some not. We learn to ignore most of them! But there is one announcement we must heed, for it has eternal consequences.
It is the angel’s announcement of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. We must look beyond the seasonal hype to appreciate the lasting impact of the message from heaven. What, then, is the true meaning of Christmas – the only valid reason for celebrating the season at all?
An unusual proclamation
Luke 2:8-14 tells us how angels announced the advent of Christ to shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem. That was unusual. No public relations expert would choose humble shepherds as the target for a significant news release.
Yet God saw fit to do so. He did not inform religious leaders but poor men of low esteem. He did it to emphasise that none of us are fit to save ourselves or approach God on our own account.
We too must ‘humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God’ if we are to find mercy – for ‘God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble’ (1 Peter 5:5-6).
The power of the Good News
The gospel of Christ, says the apostle Paul, ‘is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes’ (Romans 1:16). Christ saves sinners unconditionally and calls them to everlasting life.
This is wonderful news! God’s saving grace is extended in a sovereign manner to undeserving sinners – to all who embrace and believe the message of free pardon for sin through the merit of Jesus Christ.
‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,’ writes Paul, ‘that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief’ (1 Timothy 1:15). The shepherds’ reaction was one of joyful belief, worship and praise. They were told not to be afraid (Luke 2:10) but to rejoice and give thanks for God’s unspeakable gift.
We too should respond in the same manner – with faith and gratitude – believing in Christ alone as our Saviour (Romans 10:9-10). Faith and love in Christ cast out all fear.
The person of the Good News
It is important to understand the central figure of Christmas. It is not Santa Claus but Jesus Christ. He is the Anointed One (‘the Christ’) and he is Lord. He is the Messiah, the only Redeemer of mankind.
He is our Great High Priest, who mediates between a sinful race and a thrice-holy God. He is the Great Shepherd of the sheep, our Prophet, Priest and King. Without Christ there is no Christianity, no hope of redemption for lost sinners condemned to hell.
Jesus of Nazareth was no mere mortal. He was the living God in human flesh, come to deliver his people from their sins. Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me’ (John 14:6).
Luke adds, ‘Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). Without Christ, our end is hopeless. With Christ, we have an endless hope.
The purpose of the Good News
The angelic messengers in Luke 2:14 proclaimed glory to God and peace on earth – God’s good will toward men. This is a good example for us to emulate. When missionary Samuel Marsden landed on the Bay of Isles, New Zealand, in 1815, he preached the good news of salvation from this text.
The Christian’s message is one of peace and reconciliation between a sinful generation and a just and holy God. True peace is not just the absence of conflict – it is to secure the favour of God instead of incurring his righteous wrath.
Like a coin it has two sides – peace with God and the peace of God. Romans 5:8 says, ‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’.
As rebellious sinners we are all enemies of God unless there is a mediator to reconcile us to him in peace. Christ alone is that Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5).
Pondering the Good News
Christmas is about finding peace with God through the perfect life, atoning death and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible says, ‘For [God] hath made [Christ] to be sin for us, him who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him’ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
This is difficult to comprehend, but what tremendous significance it has for us! As we approach this year end, do we truly understand and celebrate the birth of Christ? Do we fully appreciate the power, the person and the purpose of Christmas?
Why not pause and ponder this sober and life-changing message of salvation through Christ alone? Come to Christ today, while there is still opportunity. Only Jesus saves!