Luke 2:8-15; Isaiah 9:6; 1 Peter 1:1-9
As we find ourselves getting ever closer to Christmas Eve there doesn’t seem to be much Joy in the air around us. Just this weekend someone remarked how different the Christmas Season felt this year. Straightforward I remarked how correct she was. It seems, at least in the city where I live and work, and maybe yours as well, that nobody prepares and decorates for the Christmas Season as they used to. When I was young, I could remember the City would spend about a month putting out Christmas decoration, up and down Main St. The stores no matter where they were located would prepare and decorate as well. Without question you could tell the season you were in and somehow it just brought a warm feeling to the atmosphere, even if it was only for a season; you knew Christmas was coming.
Unfortunately, this does not happen anymore and so Christmas and what is supposed to be a Joyful time of year just seems like any other day of the year. The other thing that we see fewer of every year are Nativity Scene spread about from street corner to street corner. No matter where you went you could little baby Jesus laying in the manger surrounded by Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, wise men and the heavenly angel heralding the birth of a Savior, the Christ, Jesus. Anymore the soft glow has turn into blinding LED, strange smells all around and chaos erupting all around us.
And the whole truth actually comes down to that one statement. You could take away all the fancy decoration, the lights, the Christmas Trees, and even Santa Claus, and have only the Nativity and somehow the glow and the warm feeling that comes with this time of year still brings about a Joyful spirit. But take away the Nativity scene and leave everything else as it is and unfortunately you lose hope, joy, and peace. You see really at the end of the day this is precisely what the Christmas Season should bring and is really all about. Yeah of course getting present and giving presents are meaningful. But if there is no birth of a Savior the love behind giving is lost and when we lose that joy flies out of the window with it.
Rehearsing the scene, we are reminded that after the birth of Jesus the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds who were nearby in the fields. It was there that the angel announced to them the Good News that would great joy. In a manger not far away, they would find in Bethlehem a baby who would be wrapped in clothes laying in a feed trough, because there was no more room left where the rest of the Joseph’s family was. So, the Savior of the world was born in what we would consider a barn, the Christ that had been promised and prophesied of by the prophets, made his entrance into His own at the sounds of animals in the cool night air of Bethlehem. This was where the shepherds found Jesus just as they were told by the heavenly host. Upon seeing the Child, they had to have overwhelmed with joy because we are told they told everyone they saw what they themselves had seen.
Nonetheless what we find here is what I stated previously hope, joy, and peace. The hope that we find in the birth of Jesus, or in the Nativity is revealed by the angel, a Savior. In John’s gospel we read the account of the Samaritan woman who ultimately learned from Jesus, Himself precisely His title and His purpose and upon learning this she ran back to the town. Notice the joy that comes when even the woman at the well met Jesus, it was the same as what the shepherds experienced, she told what she had seen. And they said, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42). This is the hope we have, the promise not only of our spiritual salvation but of a personal Savior (“the One who saves to the uttermost” – Spurgeon) who one day will “rescue us from the wrath that is coming” (1Thessalonians 1:10). Second, we have peace, in Isaiah 9:6 the prophet tells us “that a child would be born, who is a son, and that the government would rest upon His shoulders.” Without doubt this is a prophetic statement concerning the coming Kingdom of God that Jesus will one day initiate in His Second Coming (Advent). And when He set up this Kingdom there will be worldwide peace like you have never known and will never know until He comes back. But what we are reminded of in this prophesy is that He, the Christ, Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). The angels in heavenly worship on that holy night in Bethlehem declared in euphoric chorus “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14) Each and every one of us who at some point in our life have come to faith in Christ, had our sins forgiven and welcomed by grace into the family God have experienced peace and because of Christ are not at peace with God (Ephesians 2:14, 15; Colossian 3:15), this is the very meaning of the angelic praise concerning peace toward men. And lastly joy, we not only have joy but Jesus said that His word are meant to bring joy, and to fill us with joy (John 15:11; 16:24). His desire is for us to experience His joy and to let joy rule our life from now until He returns to take us back with Him, where He is with God, the Father. This is not only Joy but in this very statement also is our Hope (John 17:13, 24-26).
Therefore, the only way to really truly enjoy the Season we find our self in is to allow the Joy of a Savior, and a King be made known and seen for the whole world to see. And His desire is that that through you and your exceedingly abundant rejoicing (1 Peter 1;8) others may come and see the Lord through you and make Him their Savior as well. No longer believing you but seeing and knowing for themselves the joy that only He can bring.