If you were to select one word to use in describing the atmosphere at Christmas time, what would it be? One word that comes to mind is “emotional.” All the elements that combine to make the Christmas celebration tend to fill our hearts with emotion.
In our text, Luke attempts to describe the emotions felt on that first Christmas. He tells of the baby being born, of angels filling the heavens and the shepherds visit to the manger.
What are the emotions of Christmas? Let’s look here at Luke’s description of the first Christmas and see if we can identify some of them.
1. Joy - vs. 10
Perhaps one of the most favorite songs of Christmas is “Joy to the World.” And rightly so, for the message of Christmas is “Good News of great joy.” The Good News is that, because of Christ’s coming, we can have true joy.
If JOY is defined as ZERO between JESUS and YOU, then we understand what the Angels proclaimed that the Good News was Good News of GREAT JOY. The Good News is a message about how God, in the person of His Son, came to provide the payment necessary to make it possible for there to be nothing between us and Him.
“He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” - Colossians 2:14 (NLT)
“Christ came to take away our sins, to roll off our curse, to unbind our chains, to open our prison house, to cancel our debt; in a word, to give us the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Is not this joy? Where can we find a joy so real, so deep, so pure, so lasting? There is every element of joy – deep, ecstatic, satisfying, sanctifying joy – in the gospel of Christ. The
believer in Jesus is essentially a happy man. The child of God is, from necessity, a joyful man. His sins are forgiven, his soul is justified, his person is adopted, his trials are blessings, his conflicts are victories, his death is immortality, his future is a heaven of inconceivable, unthought-of, untold, and endless blessedness. With such a God, such a Savior, and such a hope, is he not, ought he not, to be a joyful man?” - Octavius Winslow
2. Love - v. 14
The angels sang of God’s love which made it possible for men to have peace. The story of Christmas is about God reaching out in love to make peace with men. God expressed His love by giving the gift of His Son.
The gift that is given often tells you much about the giver. From the gift you receive, you can tell if the giver wasn’t very thoughtful, or if they were cheap, or if they were simply “going through the motions” without much concern for you personally.
If you really care for someone, you will put more thought, more planning, more sacrifice, more effort into what you give, because you want them to know of your love for them. You will make the effort to give them something that they really want or need.
When God decided to give us the gift of eternal life, it wasn’t something that He just thought of on the fly. Long before there was a town called Bethlehem, a garden called Eden, and a planet called Earth, a decision was made in eternity past that God would send forth His Son, born of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those that are under the law.
The Bible says that He was slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). Make no mistake about it: this gift that God gave to us was the most sacrificial thing He possibly could have offered and it was a gift designed to meet a very personal and pressing need.
“This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.” - 1 John 4:9-10 (The Message)
“Here’s a side to the Christmas story that isn’t often told: Those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them. Those baby feet, pink and unable to walk, would one day walk up a dusty hill to be nailed to a cross. That sweet infant’s head with sparkling eyes and eager mouth was formed so that someday men might force a crown of thorns onto it. That tender body, warm and soft, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would one day be ripped open by a spear. Jesus was born to die.” - John MacArthur
3. Amazement - vs. 17-18
Those who heard the story related by the shepherds were amazed at what God had done. The Word of God had come to the world of men.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” - John 1:14 (NIV)
(Show video - “Are You Amazed?”)
Conclusion: There is yet one more emotion often associated with the modern day celebration of Christmas. That is sadness.
Psychologists say that for many people Christmas is the most depressing time of the year. Sometimes the sadness comes because of the demands of the season. To others the sadness comes because they recognize more clearly than at other times the emptiness within. They see another year completed, yet no more has been accomplished in their lives. Most often the sadness of the
Christmas season is caused by the awareness that the future will never be exactly like the past. Those who have to face Christmas without a loved one they lost during the year experience a certain degree of sadness in the midst of the Christmas revelry.
Some of the sadness is inevitable. The demands of the season are depressing at times. There are some people whose lives are empty. The facing of Christmas alone does hurt. Some of this sadness is inevitable.
But that’s why people need to discover the true meaning of Christmas! May this Christmas be a time when God’s people rediscover the joy, love, and amazement experienced by those who were part of the first Christmas so that the true meaning of Christmas might be revealed through the way we celebrate our Lord’s birth.