Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them. (Luke 2:8-20 NLT)
This is a passage of scripture that many people hear at least once per year and normally it is at this time of year. There have been many hymns, songs, movies and sermons written from this passage of scripture. It will appear on greeting cards. It will play in shopping malls, business lobbies and elevators. Children’s choirs will sing “Away in a Manger”. The Choral groups will perform Handel’s “Messiah” and even those who really don’t want to talk about Jesus will write about “Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards Men.”
Almost everyone can embrace the ideas of “Peace on Earth” and “Goodwill towards Men”. It is at this level that many people feel comfortable engaging the celebration of Christmas. It’s the time of year when we gather together with those whom we hold most dear. We will attend parties, give and receive presents and maybe even attend a church service. We will donate money to charities that care for the poor and less fortunate. We will sing “Silent Night”, “Jingle Bells”, “Joy to the World” and at our house we have to sing my wife’s favorite, “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas”. We will open our hearts a little wider than we do at most other times of the year. It is a time where everything is just a little more special to us, it’s Christmas.
It is very easy to pass by Christmas without truly celebrating Christ. For most it will not be intentional, it will just be the rush of calendared events, tasks and phone calls that need to be made. We can find ourselves doing all of the things we do because it is Christmas without spending anytime with the Lord.
I want to briefly look at the Shepherds in Luke, chapter 2.
The shepherds went to investigate what had been proclaimed to them by angels.
Take time to investigate the good news of “Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards Men.” This awesomely benevolent proclamation was not made by the founder of a “Peace and Love” commune nor was it proclaimed by the leaders of an anti-war movement, a civil rights organization or even a charity. This was the message of the angels of heaven at the announcement of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. The message of peace and goodwill was predicated upon God coming to redeem us.
There are many voices proclaiming the message of “peace and goodwill” in the world today but is only in the Lord Jesus Christ that this message is fully realized. When we proclaim this message it is a horizontal proclamation of “peace and goodwill” – from person to person or people to people. In Luke, chapter 2, the proclamation of “peace and goodwill” was vertical, from God to humanity. It is this proclamation of peace and goodwill that changed the world.
God desires peace with you and wants good things for you. It is for this reason that Jesus Christ came to save us from our sin. This is the message of Christmas.
This year – let us be like the shepherds and “Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Take the time to investigate the message of Christmas and you will find the God who came to bring you into His peace.
The shepherds told everyone who would listen what they had seen and heard.
Christmas is one of the two times of year where those who normally close themselves off from the gospel open their hearts. There is significant opportunity for you and me to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those with whom we “Deck the Halls”.
This year – let us be like the shepherds and “After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.” The celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ opens the door to share with others the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we truly wish “Peace and Goodwill” towards those with whom we celebrate let us love them enough to share the message of God’s peace.
The shepherds returned to their profession filled with praise and in awe of God.
What will happen on the 26th of December? Will we return to business as usual or will we be marked with the change that takes place when a person communes with God?
Everyone expects people to be a little different during the holiday season. Jesus Christ came so that you and I could become new creations. Being truly born again goes much deeper than seasonal decorum or Christmas decorations; Jesus Christ changes who we are. It is this change that makes the impact in those who know us.
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Sprits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!” ~ Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
Our challenge is to remove the word, “season” from our hearts and lives. Our walk of faith and love isn’t seasonal; it’s eternal. This year – let’s be like the shepherds and “The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.”
Christmas is special for the believer because we celebrate the hope of our salvation. We celebrate the fulfillment of prophecy. We celebrate the miraculous.
Christmas is special for those who are not yet believers for many other reasons. This year let our Christmas gift to our workplace, school and community echo the angels’ message of God’s “Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards Men.”
Have a wonderful week,