Summary: Christmas is about God’s mighty arm revealing its glory and strength in the person of Jesus Christ.
CHRISTMAS IS ...
“Christmas is sleigh bells. Christmas is sharing. Christmas is holly. Christmas is caring.” At least that’s what Percy Faith once wrote. In his not-so-familiar holiday song, entitled, Christmas Is, he tried to capture some of the things that make Christmas, well, Christmas. The sights, sounds, and feelings – apparently that’s what Christmas is. And most would agree.
Actually Christmas is about much more than just sharing warm emotions and memories. It’s about what God supplies and shares. Christmas is about God’s faithfulness made tangible through history. It’s about how God has touched our lives with his love. So, what is Christmas? Well, CHRISTMAS IS ... 1) For People Who Have Nothing, and it’s 2) For People Who Need Everything.
1) For People Who Have Nothing
Would you believe that this text from Isaiah is a 2,500-year-old Christmas greeting from God? It is. God originally sent this greeting to those Jewish people who were exiled in Babylon (present-day Iraq) in the sixth century B.C. The Lord also had the prophet send this greeting to the ragtag handful of people who remained behind in Jerusalem, the once proud capital of the Jewish nation.
Can you imagine their mind-set? Whether they were hauled off to Babylon or remained in the ruins of Jerusalem – it must have seemed that their whole world was out of control. Their ancient homeland of Israel, once promised to their ancestor Abraham and his family, was destroyed. Their worship life was in shambles. The sacrifices they offered, which foreshadowed the work of the promised Savior, were no longer offered on the huge bronze altar outside the temple. In fact, the temple, built by great King Solomon, had been trashed and torched by the armies of Babylon. There must have been an ache in their hearts as these people prayed to God. They had nothing.
Is this how God’s promises to Adam and Eve to Abraham and to David would end – with a whimper in the desert of the ancient Near East? Of course not. God is faithful. He sent a greeting of hope to these hopeless people: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tiding, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” The God of faithful love and mercy came to his weary and lonely people with a message of good news. “Your God reigns!” God would make it possible for those exiled in Babylon to return home. The Lord of the universe would grab the reigns of world government, and would send the Persian Empire to topple proud Babylon. The Babylonian exiles would return back home to Jerusalem. He would establish peace. And so, messengers ran ahead from Babylon back to Jerusalem proclaiming this wonderful news, “Mom and dad are coming home! Babylon is conquered! The exile is over!” What a message for those who had nothing! Families would be united. No wonder those messengers seemed to have beautiful feet – their feet brought good news.
We can relate to this Christmas greeting because in reality we are a people who have nothing. As we stand before God we see our sins are cause for a spiritual exile. God has every reason to cast us out of his presence – to send us away from his goodness. Adam and Eve forsook the complete, wholesome, peace that was theirs in Paradise. As a result, we lack that perfect peace. In fact, we don’t even deserve it. We don’t even deserve the little blessings God gives in our lives. We don’t deserve our homes, our families, or our livelihood. We don’t deserve this church. We don’t deserve God’s message of hope. The truth is we deserve to be exiled to sin and death forever. We, too, are a people who have nothing.
Oh! We may have tinsel and toys, Christmas lights and presents. We may have the things that provide temporary pleasure, and we might think that’s enough. Our sinful hearts may think its enough to hear Christmas carols on the radio, to see the lights in the oak trees, to taste Christmas cookies, or receive a peck on the cheek from underneath the mistletoe. But that’s not enough. Such things cannot fill our hearts with peace. It’s at Christmas that many people feel depressed and alone. It’s at Christmas that we miss loved ones who have passed away. The glitter of the holidays just isn’t enough to keep peace in our hearts. That is not what Christmas is. For Christmas is nothing, and we have nothing, if we don’t have God’s greeting of “good tidings.”
2) For People Who Need Everything
The God of history, our all-powerful and merciful God, intervened in the world scene for us all. He has made it possible for us to have peace. He gives us everything we need. Messengers have come to us. And they are beautiful! The Christmas angel came to the shepherds that first Christmas announcing, “Peace on earth!” And God has sent his Christmas greeting to you, “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!” That’s what Christmas is all about. And that’s just what we need. God gives us what we need right here in his holy Word. He gives us a message of hope and love, and he gives us the ability to receive and believe it.