Here’s a thought: Who should get to enjoy Christmas? Definitely not naughty children, according to one popular song. Let me quote the lyrics:
‘You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
He’s gonna find out
Who’s naughty or nice
Santa Claus is coming to town.’
What a horrible song. Santa Claus (apologies St Nicolas!) is some sort of anal obsessive who hates crying children and keeps a list of their misdemeanors. Furthermore, he will only reward perfect kids with, I presume, a present. Counts me out. What about you?
I’ll stick with the Christmas Angel, thanks very much. Let me quote from Dr. Luke:
‘In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Saviour, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”
Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favours!” When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”’
– Luke 2:8-15
What’s the big deal? Well, its the recipients of this message. You see, at the time of these events, shepherds were not considered good people. My Rienecker & Rogers Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament has the following entry: ‘Poimen, shepherd. Shepherds had a low reputation and were looked upon w. great suspicion.’ In other words, shepherds had one loyalty, and that was to their sheep. They weren’t considered to be good honest or ‘nice’ people.
So, what did the Angel of God have to say to these ‘not-so-good’ folks?
Don’t be afraid, I have good news for everyone
Why would the angel tell them not to be afraid? Well, firstly, this isn’t one of those fat little cherubs with fluffy wings. This is a real angel. Secondly, it says, ‘An angel of the Lord stood before them.’ When people saw an angel, they knew that their time was up – especially if they had been naughty. When God pays a visit there is good reason to be scared because he could be coming to judge you.
But not today, not on Christmas Day. God has sent his angel with good news – the gospel.
Your Saviour, Christ the Lord, has come today
The good news is that the Saviour of the world has come. Ever since our first parents fell into sin, mankind has looked for rescue from the death-dealing condition of the human heart. So, God has promised a Saviour. He promised that to Eve in the garden, that her child would crush Satan’s head and in so doing would injure his heal. 700-years before the prophet Isaiah had prophesied, that: ‘…the virgin shall conceive and have a Son, and shall call his name ‘Immanuel’.” Immanuel means, ‘God-with-us.’
The good news of great joy for everyone is that the Saviour who has come is Messiah/Christ the Lord. Do you need to be saved? Here is God’s chosen one, the only Saviour of the world.
Your Saviour is a baby sleeping in a manger
This is where it gets really challenging for you if you are tough guy. You see, if I was in a fight I would want a big strong gangsta to rescue me. If I was having psychological or drug problems, someone with a beard, glasses and a clipboard. If financial problems, someone in a flash suit and with a big cheque book. What about sin issues?
The Christmas angel tells us that our Saviour of the world is a newborn baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths, and lying in a hay manger! This shows us that it is a miracle, and humbles us to trust him, God sent his Saviour as a newborn baby, helpless and weak in a manger, and who died helpless and weak on the cross to wash away your sin. Only a humbled sinner will buy that.
Glory to God and peace for God’s people
God does this because he is glorified and we receive peace. (v.14) To glorify God means to exalt him, say “that’s awesome of God” and lift his name high. Jesus clearly stated this later, when he defined his life-mission in this prayer: (John 17:4) “Father I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” You see, Jesus’ life and death brings glory to God because it shows how wonderful God is in saving sinners. In the gospels we read again and again that people ‘glorified God’ when they saw what Jesus did and said.
Christmastime is a season of good news for Jesus God’s Saviour has come. It isn’t just for good kids (or adults), but for every person, whoever they are, who recognises that they are lost and need to be saved.