And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:8–11).
What is so great about Christmas? Is it the gathering of family and friends? The opening of gifts? The great meals? The combination of all? The answer should be “no.” None of those things, while they have become an important part of Christmas tradition, in themselves but separated from acknowledging the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, make Christmas great.
The greatness of Christmas comes from the incarnation. When God clothed Himself with flesh and blood in order to bring glory to His own name through the salvation of His people. That grandiose time in history when Christ the King became Christ the servant at His birth. When the sinless Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, entered His creation to be led to the slaughter as the salvation of His people was upon His shoulders. When that innocent little infant grew up perfect, righteous, doing only that which is pleasing and acceptable to the Father in perfection, knowing no evil in His person yet being ‘crushed’ by the Father. Having no sin, Christ was placed upon that cross by the Father as the sins of His people were transferred to His account. The testimony of the Bible states it in this manner:
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities “(Is 53:10–11).
That is the essence of Christmas. To make it primarily about family or gift exchanges is to miss the real joy of this holiday. To neglect the incarnation and it’s component parts ( purpose, results or His life death and resurrection ) is to take the “merry” out of Christmas. Even to only speak of the birth of Jesus apart from His life, death and resurrection is to do injustice to Christmas.
That event was so momentous that the message of it came with the glory of the Lord and caused fear among the shepherds. But notice the message that was delivered by the angel of the Lord states that “the goodnews of great joy” (v. 10) is followed by the announcement of Christ the Savior (v. 11). That is because there is great joy to be had in the birth of the promised Messiah. The Deliverer and salvation of God’s people has arrived. He will deliver His people from their sins. He would bear their curse upon His own head. He accomplished all that He came to do. He uttered “it is finished” as He bore the wrath of the Father in place of sinners and rose victoriously from the grave on the third day. What joy for all those in Christ! Reconciliation and being adopted as a child of God. Having a place at His table and in His presence is cause for great joy and to be shared with those still His enemies.
It most certainly is good news. That is why the announcement of the Christ’s birth was announced as good news of great joy. There is no real joy apart from Christ. Christmas is about the glory of God in the salvation of His people in the birth, life, death and resurrection of the Son of God. Everything else is artificial. Merry Christmas and Soli Deo Gloria!
For His Glory,