Jean’s Gospel: A Christmas Message
Merry Christmas! May the Good News of Christ’s birth bless us all.
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
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. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’ ” (Luke 2:1-14)
The Gospel or Good News is a supernatural sermon which reveals Jesus as both Christ and Savior. On the night of His birth, that sermon was delivered by a supernatural messenger – an angel of the Lord, because aside from Mary and Joseph, no one else knew that Christ was born in Bethlehem.
The world is far too busy to notice its Savior. There is an emperor with his demands, travel plans to make and a tax registration to complete. There is the magnificent Temple nearby with its high priests, and the inns are busy serving their wealthy guests. There is no room in the world for the entrance of the poor King of the Jews. Christ’s kingdom does not threaten Rome, but submits to its demands. Christ was not born of one of the daughters of Annas or Caiaphas in a palace in Jerusalem, but of a poor young virgin in a stable located in the small town of Bethlehem. Jesus was born in a room used to shelter animals and is placed in a manger used to feed them.
Had God not sent the world His heavenly messenger that night, Christ’s birth would have gone completely unnoticed by his own nation.
“For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts.” (Hag 2:6-7)
So the world went about its business that night clueless to the fact that in Bethlehem (which means “House of Bread”) Jesus (who is the “Bread of Life”) was born. On the other hand, the reaction in heaven that night was completely different. There, a heavenly host was preparing a celebratory concert, and a messenger of the Lord (i.e., an angel) was about to proclaim the Good News to a few lowly shepherds (and to all of us).
“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.” (Luke 2:9)
The shining of the Lord’s glory on the shepherds must have startled as well as terrified the shepherds. Fallen humanity cannot endure the unmediated glory of God. God’s perfect holiness shined its light on the sin of the shepherds, instilling in them great fear. But it is the fear of God’s judgment that prepared the Shepherds to hear the consolation of the Gospel.
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. (Luke 2:10-11)
For the Gospel to accomplish its supernatural work of engendering, strengthening and preserving faith in a human heart, a preacher must “bring you” the Gospel. In other words, the Gospel is just news if it is preached as an historical event or for someone else. But the Gospel is good news if it is brought to you and specifically for you. The angel emphasizes this point when he says that what he brings you is good news “of great joy”. The Gospel is both good and joyous news when it is proclaimed for you.
The angel further comforts the shepherds with the words: “for all the people.” Christ is the Savior for all people. Some people may think they have no need of a Savior, while other people may think they are beneath or beyond God’s saving grace. The words “for all the people” plainly state that all people need of a Savior, and Christ has come to be the Savior for all people. He has come to be your Savior and mine!
The angel next explains the Gospel: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The angelic preacher begins with the words “For unto you”. The NASB has “for you.” Both of these translations convey the fact, once again, that Christ was born specifically for you; He is your Savior. Is that not good and joyous news?
All that Christ is (e.g., the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Resurrection, etc.) and has is yours. You should regard Him as your Savior, because He can deliver you from sin, death and the devil, and give you forgiveness, life and salvation. Although your Savior is Christ and Lord, He was born for you and is yours with all He has.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14) Amen.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:7)