Christmas is one of the most widely-celebrated festivals around the world. Sadly, it has also become one of the most commercialised and frivolous events of the year. People associate Christmas with frenzied shopping, merry-making and drunken debauchery.
To Christians, however, Christmas is a blessed time of contemplation and worship as we recall the first advent of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Christmas is also a joyous time of proclaiming the Saviour’s birth and message of hope through the many carols that are sung during this happy season.
o Joyous news
One carol that we often sing is “Joy to the world!” The first stanza reads:
Joy to the world! The Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing
The meaningful lyrics bring to mind, the first Christmas, when an angel appeared suddenly in the wintry night sky with the glorious proclamation of the Saviour’s birth: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Lk. 2: 10-12).
What joyous news – that Christ, the long-awaited Messiah has come as a Bethlehem Babe. He has come “to save his people from their sin” (Matt. 1: 21). In His first advent, Christ came to be our Mediator – to reconcile sinful man with a holy God (II Cor. 5: 18). He came that we who were dead in sin and trespasses might live again (Col. 2: 13). Because of our sins, we were, like all men, condemned to an eternal death. But Christ our Saviour came to deliver us from God’s wrath and judgment: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6: 23).
How the shepherds rejoiced to receive the wonderful news of the Saviour’s birth! Promptly obeying the heavenly vision, they went “with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger” (Lk. 2: 16). God rewarded the shepherds’ simple faith – they were the first to see the new-born King. Having found the Saviour, the happy shepherds returned to their fields, “glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them” (Lk. 2: 20).
o “Peace, good will toward men”
After the angel’s proclamation to the shepherds, a great choir of angels appeared “praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Lk. 2: 13-14).
The angels praised God and gave Him the highest glory for His gift of the Saviour Who came to make “peace” between God and man (v 14). “It is the highest expression of His love and mercy. Nowhere, so far as we can see, could His glory be more strikingly exhibited than in giving His only-begotten Son to die for men” (Albert Barnes’ Expository Notes).
Jesus Christ, “the Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9: 6), came to reconcile us to God by His atoning death on Calvary’s cross. God’s “good will” – His kindness, grace and mercy – “toward men” was manifested in His redemptive act: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5: 6-8). It is because of God’s good will that we can be at peace with Him.
This Christmas, let us respond to the “good tidings of great joy” with a heart of thanksgiving and worship. May we be mindful of God’s grace, mercy and love so freely bestowed upon us, a sinful and unworthy people. Like the shepherds, let us rejoice in the good news of our Saviour’s birth. Like them, let us also share the good news of Christmas with others. Tell them of the great love of God manifested through Christ Jesus, our Saviour. May the joyous news of Christmas warm our hearts and draw us closer to Him.
Have a blessed and meaningful Christmas!