Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!”
The birth of Christ is the story of Christmas. It is the greatest mystery ever witnessed by both heaven and earth. Christ is the promised Messiah. What is so amazing is that He came into the world to die. His birth tells the true story of Christmas and Easter combined. We only have Christmas because Jesus was born. Christmas is a joyous celebration. It is a time for gift-giving and fellowship. However, our attitude toward Christmas should be more about receiving the greatest gift that God gave to humanity – His Son (John 3:16).
The birth of Christ is God’s ultimate gift to humankind. Imagine how amazed the angels must have been when they saw the Creator lying in a manger. The One who created them had now been born as a human baby. Since the beginning of time, the angels had served Him as the Captain of the hosts of God’s army. But now, the Word was a poor, helpless, and speechless baby. The Son of God willingly left His riches in heaven and became poor for you and me, that we, through His poverty, might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). Even the angels could not comprehend such amazing love.
Have you ever wondered why God announced the incarnate birth of Christ to shepherds? God could have sent His angel to the synagogue. He could have sent the angel to the king’s palace to announce such a glorious and joyous event. Yet, God chose lowly shepherds to reveal such good news. Why? By visiting the shepherds, the angel revealed the grace of God toward all people and not just a chosen few. Had the angel gone to the synagogue the Pharisees would have tried to make Christ exclusively their own. No doubt they would have reasoned that Christ was sent exclusively to them because of their self-righteous works.
Why Messiah Had to be Born
Adam was the first sinner. His sin was disobeying God. His sentence was death – eternal separation from God. We are all descendants of Adam therefore we are all sinners. The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Because Adam listened to Satan’s lies, he gave his position as “ruler” of the earth to Satan. This is why Jesus had to come to the earth to redeem us from Satan’s rule (Galatians 3:13). Only a man could redeem man. But to redeem us, Christ had to first become a man. Herein is the wisdom and genius of God: He sent His Son to be born of a woman to save us.
While Christ had to be born to save us, He also had to be born to reveal the true nature of God to us (John 14:7). We only know the true nature of God because of the birth of Christ. His birth is the story of Christmas. We have seen God in Jesus. The Bible says no one has ever seen God (John 1:18). We only know the true nature of God because Jesus has declared Him to us.
The Reason for the Season
The Christmas season is when we get together with friends and family to exchange gifts and enjoy a good meal and celebrate the birth of Christ. If you are among those fortunate enough to shop for a gift to give a loved one, or open a gift given to you, take a moment to reflect on what it cost the Son of God for you to experience the joy of giving and receiving.
We are slowly drifting away from the true meaning of Christmas. There was a time when we used to say Merry Christmas. Then subtly “Christ” was replaced with “X”. Rather than write “Merry Christmas” we began writing “Merry Xmas.” Today we have completely replaced the story of Christmas with commercialism. It is as if Christ never was. But the Bible says Jesus is the Word of God. He existed in the beginning with God, and He is God. All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made. The world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to the world and the world did not receive Him (John 1).
“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…”. We must never forget that Jesus is the reason for the holiday season. So, this Christmas open your Bible and discover Jesus. Read about the birth of Christ in Matthew 1 and Luke 2. If you do this you will honor the Gift Giver by receiving the greatest gift of all, Christ Jesus.