December Magazine Article

It's time to start thinking about Christmas.  Here's my attempt at for our December church magazine.

----

“Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 NIV)

It's nearly Christmas. No really it is! We're in December and in no time at all it'll be Christmas Day. I don't know about you, but I'm not ready yet. I haven't done the cards. I haven't bought the presents and I've no idea about Christmas lunch. But of course, that's not what Christmas is all about.

Christmas is about a virgin who became miraculously pregnant. A baby born miles from home in less than hygienic circumstances. Angels making announcements all over the place. Visitors from the fields and from far away. It's an amazing story and right at the centre is Jesus. Who is this baby who arrived in such a dramatic way? Why are we still remembering his birth 2000 years later and 2000 miles from where it happened?

I think the angel's message to the shepherds in Luke 2:11 gives us the answers by telling us who this baby is.

First, Jesus is God's king, which is indicated by the fact he was born in “the town of David” who had been Israel's greatest king (and see Micah 5:2). It is then confirmed by the title the “Christ,” which means anointed one. In the Old Testament we see God ensuring his kings were anointed (e.g. 1 Samuel 10:1; 16:12-13).

Second, Jesus is the Lord. That title refers to God in the Old Testament, so here it gives us a very striking testimony that this baby is in fact God. He is divine.

But what does this divine king come to do? Well, thirdly, he is the Saviour. Now that title begs a question or three of its own. Who has he come to save? What has he saved them from? How are they saved?

Luke uses Jesus' words in chapter 19 verse 10 to answer the who question: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (NIV). It's the lost. That verse is in the story of Zacchaeus (who was pretty lost!) and think of the parables of the lost coin, sheep and son in Luke 15.

We are all lost without Jesus. The lost person is the one who has rebelled against his Father whether in overt rejection of him or self-righteousness (see the two sons in Luke 15:11-32). This Christmas you can't fail to see how many lost people are around. Most, I suspect, will celebrate the season without reference to the Saviour and so overtly reject him. But many will be in church, piously singing carols, looking down on those around while they rely on their own goodness to get to God. They are just as lost.

Luke uses Jesus' parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) to show us what the lost are saved from. It describes a place of pain and punishment, eternally away from God's loving care and under his judgement. It is what we call hell. When we see what Jesus saves from, it brings home how important it is that we are saved.

And Luke makes it clear that the cross is the answer to how the lost are saved. For example, at the Last Supper he describes his death as being “for you” (Luke 22:19-20 NIV). And when he is on the cross, we can see the irony of the challenges to save himself (Luke 23:37, 39), when in fact he is giving himself to save others. He dies in our place under God's judgement for our sin, so that we do not have to.

So this Christmas, what will you do with this divine king and Saviour. It's possible you are still lost, rejecting God or caught up in your own self-righteousness. Why not take the opportunity this Christmas to trust in Christ. Luke gives lots of examples of people doing that for us to follow. Perhaps you could start with the example of the prodigal son who said: I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.” (Luke 15:18-19 NIV). And see how the Father responds (Luke 15:20-24).

Perhaps, you are no longer lost, but have been found already. Well this Christmas, you can rejoice in the good news that was announced when Jesus was born. And why not make a special effort to share that good news with your family, friends, neighbours and colleagues who are still lost. You could start by inviting them to our Christmas services.

This Christmas, in many of our services, we're looking through the story of Jesus' birth as found in Luke's gospel, which is why I've focused on Luke's story of Jesus this time. Perhaps, wherever you stand on Jesus, this Christmas you could make the time to read the 24 chapters Luke wrote about this baby and remind yourself what all the fuss is really about.

With that in mind, I hope you have a Christ-filled Christmas and New Year.


Stephen

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Archbishops and False Teachers

What should Christians learn from Brexit (and Trump's victory)?

Sacrifice and 21st Century Conservative Evangelicals