Summary: The message of Christmas is: 1. God is the sovereign ruler of the world. 2. Evil cannot win. 3. The world is coming to a wonderful conclusion.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, each year displays a twenty-foot blue spruce Christmas tree covered with angels, with a beautiful eighteenth century Neapolitan nativity scene underneath. In many ways it is a very familiar scene. There are shepherds who have been jarred awake by the orchestra of heaven and the choir of countless angels, several sheep; the magnificent wise men from the East; Joseph; Mary; the newborn Jesus — all are there, and each figure a work of art by itself. There is something unusual about this nativity, however, and many people miss it. Even though there is a stable, a crib and shepherds, they are set, not in Bethlehem, but amid the ruins of Rome. As a backdrop to the little manger there are broken and disintegrating Roman columns. The message the artist gave was subtle, yet powerful. This fragile, infant King would ultimately conquer all the kingdoms of this world. Kings like Herod would realize how dangerous this King was and attempt to destroy him early on, and the Roman Caesars would endeavor to annihilate his followers. But the presence of this King signaled the end of the rule of the kings of the earth. It is an appropriate nativity scene, for he reigns in glory while their kingdoms lie in ruins. The good news of the Kingdom of God was bad news for the kingdoms of this world. His kingdom would be an everlasting kingdom, and theirs would hardly begin before they crumbled.
We sometimes become dismayed when the kingdoms of this world oppose the announcement of the King of kings at Christmas, but what would you expect? It has never been any different, and while they used their might to oppose him, their empires lie in rubble and they are not remembered, while King Jesus marches on through history conquering hearts and overcoming kingdoms. He speaks to our anxious and troubled hearts saying, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). And so, we say with the Psalmist: “The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad” (Psalm 97:1).
What is the message of Christmas? It is that God has invaded our world and it will never be the same. The message of Christmas is that Jesus Christ reigns and will guide the history of the world to its final conclusion where he will have the final word. He will redeem the world. A kingdom of great joy is coming. The angel’s message is still for us today: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). Isaiah prophesied of his coming, saying, “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2). The appearance of this Great Light was a profound event with eternal implications, for it was grounded in eternity. The eternal Christ came from eternity past into our present, that we might be with him in eternity future.
The message of Christmas is multifaceted, but one facet is this: God is the sovereign Ruler of the world. A sovereign is one who has complete power and is answerable to no one, and that is a word that applies to Jesus Christ in a way it applies to no other. All of the commotion over Christmas amounts to this: it is the world’s resistance to acknowledging the sovereign rule of Jesus Christ over the world. It is the rebellion and the refusal to acknowledge him as king.
You have to ask yourself: “What is the world so afraid of that they do not even want to mention the name of Christ during the season which celebrates his birth?” The reason the world does not want his name mentioned is that they understand the power of that name. Any talk of Jesus, the mere mention of him, can cause people to be drawn to him. But as much as the world tries to deny him, it cannot resist him. For now there may be a flurry of fussing, but in the end there will only be bending knees and tongues confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father, because God has exalted him to the highest place and given him a name above every name (Philippians 2:8-11).
What the kings and rulers of this world fight against is their temporality, and the enduring rule of Jesus Christ. It is hard to accept your limitations and the temporariness of your life. The Bible says, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:7-8).