Merry Christmas – Why? A Celebration and an Invitation
By: Dr. Harry Reeder
January 7, 2014 8:22 AM
Merry Christmas! This is the Christmas greeting each Advent season when the Gospel-confessing church and Christians pause in the yearly calendar to focus with celebration and proclamation upon the birth of Christ – the Incarnation. This Christmas greeting is no act of human ingenuity. Christians are simply following the model laid before us by the Angels on that first Christmas who declared the proclamation the Savior is born and who celebrated with a Doxology of praise to the Triune God of Glory.
“Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14
This Christmas greeting by which we address one another and the world and which in our culture has historically been embraced although now attacked, is a message proclaiming a unique, one-of-a-kind event in history where our greatest hope and need is realized and answered – sinners can be right with God and amazingly reconciled to God as a gift of grace flowing from the unmerited love of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – the Triune God of glory. How? In history the Son of God “came down” and “took upon Himself” a true human body, soul, and mind for one express purpose: “to save His people from their sins” to the glory of God the Father and through the power of God the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Angel instructed Joseph and through Joseph commands us to “call His Name Jesus” – meaning Yahweh (Jehovah) saves! So…
Merry Christmas! God has made a “way” when there was no “way” to save sinners who are rightly under His eternal and Holy judgment and who are incapable of saving themselves by resolution, ritual, or religion. That “way” which He has made is His Son, Jesus Christ who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life and no man can come to the Father but through Him.” Yet, the corollary to that truth is another Biblical promise that all who “come to Him” will be saved from their sins and reconciled to the Father for all eternity. Why?
Merry Christmas! Because in Christ we have, by the gift of God’s grace and love, the only One qualified to save sinners. The Son of God, fully God, has humbled Himself to become the Son of Man, fully man. Therefore, we now have a new Adam. “By a man comes death (Adam); by a Man comes the resurrection of the dead (the Second Adam – Christ).”
In other words, Christ, the One who always has been (Son of God), has become what He never was (Son of Man) in order to save sinners for God’s glory and now is what He always will be (fully God – fully Man) for all eternity. This means that those who trust Him alone as Lord and Savior will one day be able to behold Him and see Him in eternity and for all eternity.
Merry Christmas! Why? Because the One who alone is qualified to save us did qualify us to be saved. Christ who was born to die for us has won the victory at the cross. His death was not a martyr’s death on a cross but an atoning death on The Cross. This One would be unstoppable as He “set His face to Jerusalem” to be “put to death” of His own will under the crushing blow of God the Father’s righteous judgment in our place. This glorious redemption of sinners was not because we wanted it or deserved it but because of His great love for us which sent Him on a love-driven, relentless journey to the cross. Not only do the Gospel biographies record this righteous journey for our redemption, but they also record informative birth narratives which all contain this glorious message of Christ born to die for our sins. In other words, the Manger is explained at the Cross and the Cross is meaningless without the Manger. “Emmanuel. God with us.” So…
Merry Christmas! The birth narratives record the reply from earth to the Heaven-sent Redeemer as they each contain the message of celebrating His birth and anticipating His atoning death. The Angels, in announcing His birth to shepherds, affirm the Divine sign at the Manger of the Christ being “wrapped in swaddling cloths.” These linen cloths that wrapped Him are cast aside as His Body grows in this stone trough. In 33 years His body will again be wrapped in linen cloths only to be cast aside as His now resurrected Body leaves the stone tomb. See the shepherds in response to the Angelic announcement coming to the Manger to celebrate the birth of a Savior. These who raise and tend in the valleys of Bethlehem, the sheep and lambs, which will be sacrificed on the Mountains of Zion in Jerusalem will, at the Manger, behold – “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Furthermore, these shepherds who care for their flocks in the same fields as their forbearer David, now behold the prophesied Son of David, the Great Shepherd, who “lays down His life for His sheep” and will save them as the Good Shepherd, who on the Mountain of death – Calvary, will lay down His life for his Sheep so that they will only pass through “the shadow of the Valley of death.” See the Wise Men who, in fulfillment of prophesy, bring gifts of gold (affirming His Royalty), frankincense (affirming His Deity), and Myrrh which anticipates the day when this death-spice will vainly encase the Body of our Savior as He “descends to Hades” – the grave, and in three days will rise in victory as our Triumphant Redeemer.
Merry Christmas! A greeting declaring the Savior is Born! We have a message of a sure Hope. Not the vanity of absurd idolatry, repetitive ritual, self-reliant resolutions nor the arrogance of man’s religion. A glorious Hope. God has “come down,” born in a manger, truly God and truly man, to be crucified on the Cross, to be buried in a Tomb and to rise in triumph, ascend to glory and is coming again as Lord of all and Savior for all who by faith and repentance turn to Him and trust in Him by surrendering unto Him. Rejoice! The Lord has come! From our sins and fears He releases us! Joy to the World! This is why we greet each other and the world with a greeting that is both a celebration and an invitation. Merry Christmas!