This Friday is Christmas Day and, if all has gone well, most of your rushing and running ought to be over.
It would be good if we could hear the story of Jesus’ birth, as the angels first shared it: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (see Luke 2:10).
It would be good, but doing so is almost always difficult.
It’s hard to separate Jesus’ coming to save sinful humanity from the way the world wants the holiday to be remembered. If you doubt there is such confusion, then listen to the little girl who told her baby brother the story of Christmas. Her rendition went this way:
“Jesus was born just in time for Christmas, up at the North Pole surrounded by eight little reindeer and the Virgin Mary. Then Santa Claus showed up with lots of toys and stuff and some swaddling clothes. The three wise men and elves sang carols, while the Little Drummer Boy and Scrooge helped Joseph trim the tree. In the meantime, Frosty, the Snowman saw this star. Here endeth the reading.”
You may shake your head at such silliness. But the little girl’s sad story is no stranger than that promoted by those who say the true meaning of Christmas is family, fun, fuzzy feelings, and cartoon fantasies.
They would have us believe the salvation Jesus brings is secondary to Santa, His grace less important than expensive gifts and greeting cards. In their hearts the sound of parties and cash registers drown out God’s Good News.
We should not be surprised.
The world, Satan, and sin have always tried to defeat, deny and discredit the coming of the Savior. Yet, in those hearts and homes where the Word still works, the Savior still comes. Born of a woman, He is one of us, yet better than us.
I encourage you to look upon the little hands and remember they will be pierced to save you. See His beautiful brow and recall how it will be crowned with thorns. Listen to His first cry and hear that cry echo, 33 years later, upon Calvary’s cross, as He proclaims our salvation is finished.
This Friday we remember the fulfillment of God’s promise, the story of how our forgiveness and salvation was won. On Christmas Day we hear the story of humanity’s God-given, blood-bought gift of forgiveness, redemption and renewal.
It is the story of good news of great joy. It is the story of the Babe of Bethlehem, the Christ of the cross, the Savior of the empty tomb.