by Eric Dunbar
With so much happening in the world today—crime, drugs, murder, terrorism, wars, broken marriages, injustice—many people say the world is becoming increasingly evil, and there is nothing “merry” about Christmas anymore. As a result, it seems that only a handful of people still say, “Merry Christmas.” While it is true that the world has changed, the ancient world into which Jesus was born 2,000 years ago had its evils too. For example, the Jews and the Samaritans worshiped the same God, but they were in constant conflict over where they should worship Him. And the Romans, who cared for neither the Samaritans nor the Jews, were causing chaos among the nations of the Middle East as they went about conquering all the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
Much like the ancient world of that day, our world is also in civil unrest as, as we deal with racial division, national and international conflicts, war, terrorism, poverty and drugs. But despite the evil, the chaos and the injustice, Christmas is now, as it was then, a time to truly be joyful.
The Old Testament Prophet Isaiah prophesied of the Christ child hundreds of years before He was born. “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
God showed Isaiah a glimpse of the future and he prophesied: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” I’m sure the old prophet had seen a lot of calamity in his day and he must have been overjoyed to see the glimmering light of the Son of God shinning in a dark world. Isaiah was confident that the light he saw was the promised Messiah that the scriptures had spoken of. Isaiah had a foretaste of the day in which the King of kings would come and set up His Kingdom in a troubled world. We are living in those days. Though our King has come and gone, one day He will return for the citizens of His Kingdom.
The first Christmas
On a quiet dark night a little more than 2,000 years ago, an angel of the Lord visited some shepherds who were in a field standing watch over their sheep. The angel said to the shepherds, “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” (Luke 2:10-11).
The first Christmas must have been a wonderful sight to behold. There were no Christmas trees decorated with colorful lights, no gingerbread houses or candy canes and there was no snow on the ground. There was however, a multitude of angels praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:13-14)! The angels were making a declaration that peace had finally come to a trouble world, and from that day forward, God would view man with favor.
This Child was no ordinary child. “Unto us a Child is born” establishes the fact that this Child was human. “Unto us a Son is given” establishes the fact that this Child was the Son of God. This Child was not half human and half God, as many speculate. This Child was fully human and fully God. This Child was the Son of God. He was born to make mankind whole again, and to save us from the wrath of God. This Child was born to be the sacrifice for the sins of the very beings He had created.
The importance of Christmas
On Christmas Day, we honor the birth of Christ by giving gifts. Christmas should not only be a time of gift giving, but a time of receiving as well. Christmas is not about the gifts we give to others, although that is a nice gesture. Christmas is about receiving the gift that God has given to us.
God created Adam—the first man, and gave him dominion and authority of the entire earth. God told Adam that he could eat of every tree but one—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17). But Adam was disobedient and his disobedience separated him from God and caused him to die, separating him from God. But God could not abandon His beloved man to death, so He devised a plan to redeem him.
Therefore, “Unto us a Son is given.” This Son was the only One in the entire universe who was qualified to bear the sin of our disobedience on the cross, and no one made Him do it. He did it voluntarily. That is why Christmas is a time of rejoicing and faithfulness.
So make this Christmas a time of rejoicing by closing your eyes and imagine the angels of God praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” Then receive that peace and goodwill by thanking God for the gift of His Son. By doing so, it will also add meaning to the gifts you give.
Unto us a Child was born and a Son was given that we might be heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). The Bible says that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). So this Christmas let us be mindful of our Heavenly Father’s gift. Believe in His Son and receive the gift of eternal life.