i taught from luke 2 this past sunday as we finished a mini-series heading into Christmas week.
aside from teaching the narrative and trying to highlight some of the context surrounding the incarnation, the thing that hit me the most is why we tend to miss the true meaning of Christmas.
and by “we” i don’t mean people, in general, i mean believers. it’s one thing to remind the world that Christmas is about Christ and celebrating His incarnation. it’s another thing for believers to lose sight of the significance of the incarnation because we’re focused on a cultural campaign or moral life.
let me try to ‘splain myself: i think it’s really easy for Christians to boil the incarnation down to a political platform or a fairy tale. many of us love to champion the causes of “keep ‘Christ’ in Christmas” and “i don’t say, ‘happy holidays.’ i say, ‘merry CHRISTMAS.'” we also love to reduce the advent of Christ to a folk tale about Jesus’ birthday. are those angles wrong in and of themselves? not necessarily. but we need to focus on the impact of Christ’s birth.
without the incarnation atonement is impossible because the curse of sin is on mankind and must be paid for by a man… but the man has to be without sin because if his blood is shed for his own sin, it cannot cover ours. in order to be a perfect man, divinity and humanity were placed in one person, Jesus Christ.
that’s why Christmas is “good tidings of great joy!” it’s not just to celebrate the birth of a great leader. and it’s definitely not for a political party to rally around. it’s dawn breaking in preparation for the sunlight that is the greatest news ever told.
in preparing for the lesson, i was burdened with the thought that many Christians act as if we’re waiting for greater news to come along. we get merrier at Christmas… we try to remember the “reason” for the season… but we run the risk of missing the great truth of the incarnation.
and when we do, the joy fades when the decorations come down. could it be that we’ve dressed up “Christian” Christmas so much because we’ve forgotten what we’re actually celebrating? our neat little nativity sets, our “better than the neighbors” light displays, our amazing musical performances (none of which are wrong, inherently)… just make sure they aren’t efforts to create joy in yourself because you aren’t really exulting in the truth of Christ’s coming.
THERE IS NO GREATER NEWS! the angel of the Lord will not bring you a greater Gospel than has been revealed, so celebrate the greatest news that has ever been and ever will be delivered. and it’s a Gospel you can celebrate every day, because Christ has come! and we don’t simply look back and celebrate a Christmas that occurred 2000 years ago, we celebrate a Christmas that has impacted every day in history since!
Merry Christmas! and remember, the Gospel is as great as it gets!