What is Christmas really about? What is the timeless message and purpose behind the long holidays, tasty food and festivities? Does Christmas have anything to say to our media saturated and in many ways deeply suffering world in the 21st century?
Writing 700 years before the arrival of the Jewish Messiah, the prophet Isaiah spoke into a situation of deep distress and gloom. You can read part of that from Isaiah 9:1-7 here.
There is darkness and a deep sense of pain, oppression and gloom. Yet into what seems to be a hopeless situation for the Hebrew people who because of their rebellion and stubbornness are facing judgement, there is the promise of a glorious light, overflowing joy and wonderful celebration. The passage talks of political freedom, justice and the overthrow of enemies (Assyria was the superpower of the time that had over-run and taken over the places of Zebulun and Napthali), but also goes much further than that. The language almost seems to be going over the top with a government and peace that will be without end.
But what is even more surprising is the strategy and plan to do away with all the darkness and gloom – not weapons of war to wipe out the enemy, but a baby! From chapter 9 verse 6 of Isaiah’s prophecy:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
This child is full of wisdom, is the all powerful God in human form, the timeless eternal loving and dependable Father and bringer of eternal peace. This child is described with a mixture of kingly and godly names. He is the solution to the mess of the world and our own lives. Yet he was born in the most humble of circumstances in a backward country and the son of a peasant family.
Writing 2,500 years after Isaiah, Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), the greatest military general of his time, was able to say:
I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of people would die for Him.
What would make Napoleon say such a thing?
What is the message behind Christmas?
It is God has understood our greatest need and done something about it in sending His Son. The message of Christmas is about lasting power not through strength but amazingly through weakness and vulnerability.
First the weakness and vulnerability of a baby, but then 33 years later the weakness and vulnerability of death on a cross.
Max Lucado has written:
“If our greatest need had been information,
God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology,
God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money,
God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure,
God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness,
So God sent us a Saviour!
May you know the true joy and peace of Christmas not just today, but everyday!
Is this a message you have heard before or is it new to you?
It would be great to have your thoughts and comments.