If no one has told you yet, let me be the first to wish you Merry Christmas! I really hope those words mean something to you. I hope the greeting “Merry Christmas” holds more significance for you than simply wishing you the best during the holiday’s, or wishing you “good tidings” as you enter this season of shopping, family visits, and terrible Baton Rouge traffic. As a Christian believer, the words “merry” (meaning joyous in disposition and spirit) and “Christmas” belong together don’t they? There is a very significant purpose and meaning to the holiday we call Christmas, and that purpose is absolutely sufficient cause for us to be merry. The significance of Christmas is the difference between darkness and light. We can know this because the Bible clearly tells us this magnificent story.
The world which God created to know him and worship him has rebelled against him; we have gone our own way and sought our own glory (Romans 3:23, Romans 3:9-18). The selfish pursuit of gratification by the things of this world has left all of humanity in a state of darkness and peril (Romans 1:18-25). Yet God is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9), despite our rebellion against him, and he has patiently caused his plan of redemption to unfold throughout the millennia of human existence (Psalm 119:9, Romans 8:23) And at the most crucial time in human history, according to God’s perfect and sovereign plan, the darkness of sin and death was pierced by the glorious light of hope and life (John 1:4). This light cannot be hidden or destroyed (John 1:5), nor can any one person illuminated by this light deny its effect. This light which pierces the darkness is not “something” but someone; his name is Jesus and he is the hope for us all (John 8:12). This is the meaning of Christmas (Luke 1:32-33).
Apart from the light of Christ, you and I are without hope and without answers for our greatest problem: condemnation because of our sin and separation from God forever (Isaiah 59:1-2). This is the darkness in which Jesus steps into in order to rescue us. He [Jesus] took on the flesh of a human being and lived in our midst as one of us (Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus became a man so that all men might see and know that God is at work in redeeming and rescuing his people (Isaiah 9:2, Matthew 4:16). We celebrate this rescue at this time of year because the Christmas holiday is the recognition of the light of Christ coming to earth to save mankind from darkness and death. But Jesus Christ, the Holy Son of God, did not come as a king or an emperor, or as wealthy ruler or from an influential family (Isaiah 53:1-3). Jesus came to earth as a fragile, helpless little baby, born of a virgin, in a stable behind an over-populated roadside motel (Luke 2:7). He was adopted by a gracious earthly father who was a poor carpenter in an insignificant, backwoods town north of Jerusalem (Matthew 1:18-25). He lived most of his life in relative obscurity (Matthew 2:23), unknown to the world and hardly believed to be the messiah of God (John 1:46). In strictly human terms, it doesn’t get any more unnoticed and insignificant than this. Yet it was God’s plan at work all along to rescue you and me from sin’s darkness into his marvelous light (Psalm 69:13).
So we find ourselves once again at the beginning of another Christmas season. And the next several days of our lives will be filled with all the “busyness” of the holiday. Caution: It will be so easy to forget the significance of Christ’s birth. It will be so easy to nod our heads in agreement when someone reminds us of the “reason for the season”, without ever considering the deep implications of Christ’s incarnation. It will be so easy to give and receive gifts this Christmas without contemplating the magnitude of the gift of salvation we have received in Christ. Light has come into every believer’s life and if you have surrendered your life to Christ by the grace of God, you no longer walk in darkness! What a blessed and glorious truth that has been revealed to us through Jesus Christ! This is why I want to encourage you to be MERRY this Christmas.
Will you speak of this light that has come this Christmas season? Will you be the one whose life is clearly marked by the overwhelming grace of God? Can you live and speak in a way that displays your new reality that Jesus has come, in human flesh, to rescue you from eternal darkness? Is your Christmas holiday going to be your praise or about the glory of Jesus? Will you be merry this Christmas because of the most significant reason for the season: You have been saved by an incarnated and risen King who reigns supreme this very moment and will reign forever more. Celebrate Christ this Christmas because he is worthy. And be merry while you celebrate.