What is truly the message of Christmas?
Here is one of the most widely quoted verses in the Bible as people are wondering about the true message of Christmas:
And the angel said to them (the shepherds), “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. (Luke 2:10-11, ESV)
Luke 2 is the passage about the birth of Jesus and his very early life including his early ministry. In particular, the verse 10-11 is about the message of the angel of the Lord to the shepherds in Bethlehem, Judea. Herein, I am not going to discuss about the historical perspectives of the above verse. Instead, I would rather highlight the above capitalized keywords as I am amazed by how this short verse has actually sum up the ultimate message that we all need in life.
What is our biggest fear in life? Some people fear death, some fear suffering (physical torture, mental abuse, poverty, and so on). Some people fear punishment (for what they had done in the past), some fear life uncertainties (for what will happen in the future). Thankfully, God understands that everybody struggles with these fears and therefore the first word came out of the angel is, “Do not be afraid”. If you have fear of anything these days, this message is for you. The birth of Jesus is a sign of God’s perfect love that casts away our fear. (1 John 4:18)
Everyone enjoys a good news. When we receive an encouraging message that something great is going to happen to us (or to our beloved ones), we may say, “Sounds good!”. When we are waiting in a hope for something that finally comes true, we feel so great. Our next expression could be bowing down, jumping, or singing to worship and thank God. And then we may also share our happiness to friends by doing good to them (such as treating them in a restaurant, buying them food, helping them solve their problems, etc.). The birth of Jesus is a good news to the dying world waiting for a healing, the broken world waiting for a restoration, and the oppressed people waiting for a freedom. (Isaiah 61:1-3)
When was the last time you felt a great joy? Sometimes, we are even afraid of feeling overjoyed because we realize that the joyful feelings would not last long. However, it is worth knowing that happiness and joy are not necessarily the same. Happiness depends on the external circumstances whereas joy is from the inside out. Physical things will never satisfy us because they are all just temporal (perishable) and our hearts are designed to hunger for something of the higher values (eternal, unchanged, imperishable). The birth of Jesus is a source of great joy that continually fills our heart as he has promised that the rivers of living water will flow from the hearts of those who believe in him. (John 7:38)
ALL THE PEOPLE
This message of hope has been declared to all the people, no matter what the races, religions, social-economic status, or sexual orientations are. Here we see the inclusive character of God. Humans are all sinners and we all make mistakes every day. We desperately long to be set free from the fears and given the good news of great joy. As we live out our life each day, we face many tribulations, sufferings, and injustice that could degrade our hope, steal our joy, and challenge our faith. Thanks be to God that in Jesus we may find our rest as he is pleased to invited us to come and surrender our heavy burdens to him. In Jesus, we find our ultimate hope, peace, joy, and love. The birth of Jesus is an inclusive good news exclusively given to all the people. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
There might be times when we feel so hopeless that we want to leave from earth just to end all the pains in life (read: suicide). We are discontent with the unfair circumstances and we may reach the point where we regret our existence, wishing that we could restart our life. We want to make a fresh start. We want our debts to be forgiven. We want to be given a new heart with a new hope that everything is gonna be alright. As we live in this imperfect world, we see despairs everywhere every day. Thankfully, we have a hope of assurance that in the kingdom of God, all things will ultimately be restored and perfectly ordered. The birth of Jesus is a divine gift that favors the new born of human beings seeing the kingdom of God on this earthly life. (John 3:3)
Have you ever been in a helpless situation where you found nobody, even your closest friends, can do anything for you? Or maybe you are in a situation where your closest friend, whom you have trusted, turned his/her back to you without any reason. You are now hardly to believe anyone and you want to believe that you can solve any problem by your own strength. You feel that you would not depend to anyone else, but deep down in your heart, you realize that living this life is just impossible without others. You are doing what you don’t actually want to do, and you are not doing what you actually want to do. You struggle with your own weaknesses: pride, jealousy, unforgiving, hatred, addiction, and so forth… until you realize that all you need is a Savior. The birth of Jesus is the most glorious event in human history because the Savior is born. (Romans 7:23-25)
CHRIST THE LORD
People who work in a company must be pleased if they have a kind-hearted, ‘servant-leader’ type of boss or supervisor, who is willing to help and reach down to the employees to understand their struggles. One of the most certain roles of people in society is to serve; in other words, to be a servant. We are all servants to others, meaning that we have a sense of responsibility towards others. The employees are servants to the supervisors. The supervisors are servants to the managers. The managers are servants to the directors. The directors are servants to the company’s owners. The company’s owners are servants to the governments (presidents). And the governments are servants to the Lord God and the citizens. Ultimately, the Lord God humbles himself and comes to the world to serve his own people by giving his very life. The birth of Jesus is the ultimate sign of the Lord God’s love to his people as he emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the human form, coming down from heaven to reach the world and restore the relationship between the Lord God and his people. (Philippians 2:9-11)
Conclusion: The message of Christmas is a good news that Christ the Lord, a Savior, has been born to give everyone assurance of great joy, peace, love, hope, and salvation, so that we can live on earth and face our future without fears. The message of Christmas is a true hope for the world.
Vancouver, December 2016