The message of Christmas
Jake Heppner, Southbrook Baptist Church
Have you ever received a certified letter? Being required to sign for a letter or parcel makes you take notice of what you've received more than the daily run-of-the-mill mail delivery; you know there's something special about the delivery because the sender went the extra mile to guarantee proper, personal delivery.
A company of angels delivered the message of the Christ's birth in a proper, personal way to a troupe of shepherds on the outskirts of Bethlehem. As the herald angel delivered the message that God's Son was born that very night, the choir of angels proclaimed, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" Although the angels' Christmas message to the shepherds was remarkably succinct, this powerful message reflected a shift in humanity's standing before God because of the Christ's entering into our race. Because God's son added humanity to Himself, we can enjoy:
• The Magnification of God. "Glory to God!" is the central theme of our salvation, and the purpose of all of creation! As a race, we are a bit narcissistic, and tend to view ourselves in the center of almost everything. Even as I think of God's great plan to save humanity from their deserved eternal destination by sending His Son to the world to endure the punishment of death in my place, I tend to view myself at the center - 'God saved me! God loves me! I must be pretty outstanding if God gives notice to me. But the reality is just the opposite: God reveals His glory by extending Himself to a people who are undeserving, and John 12 is one of many passages that promote God's loving reach toward mankind as a pinnacle achievement of glorifying Him: anyone who gives their life to Him by repenting from sin and lifting the sacrifice of the sinless Christ on the cross to God for forgiveness will be saved from hell. God has certainly earned His glory.
• The Condition of Security. "Peace on earth!" The peace that the angels describe is a peace between God and mankind. Many people are surprised to hear that without Christ, they are naturally enemies with God. Few people go around with a hatred toward God, but our sin is exercised as rebellion against God and His character. Ephesians 2 describes how Jesus provided peace between God and His created people, even though we didn't recognize the severity of our problem with God. I'm surprised as I talk with people about spiritual things how few people have a certainty about their destination after they die; most people feel unsettled about the whole matter, but Jesus has provided a relationship of peace so those who trust in Him for forgiveness can have confidence and assurance.
• Position of Favor. "Goodwill toward men!" God's love and kindness can be seen most clearly in the arrival of His Son. Romans 5:8 calls Jesus' arrival and substitutional death as a demonstration of God's love toward us. Regardless of your past history with God, your failures, shortcomings, or sins, you can gain a position of favor with God through Jesus Christ. He is waiting for individuals to turn to Him and rest their faith on Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.
What a reason to be merry this Christmas!