I have not written an article for over 6 months. Life has been busier than usual lately. But I have been thinking about something for the last few weeks and I want to write it all out. Perhaps I’ll get back into the habit of writing every week.
Glad Tidings of Great Joy
A little over 2,000 years ago, in a little town just outside of Jerusalem, a baby was born. The birth of this baby, Jesus Christ, is the reason we celebrate Christmas today. But why does His birth warrant a month-long (and getting longer) celebration? Hundreds of thousands of babies are born every day1. Some of them will cure diseases of entire populations, instead of just individuals as Jesus did. Some of them will feed millions, and even billions, instead of just thousands as Jesus did. Some of them will diffuse social tension and help avoid war, instead of cause division. What, then, was so significant about the birth of Jesus Christ?
The circumstances of His actual birth cannot be described as anything more than humble. But the events surrounding the birth are nothing short of remarkable. According to the scriptural record, Jesus was born to a virgin mother. A new star appeared, and some areas experienced no darkness at all the night before he was born. To the shepherds near Bethlehem, an angel came, bringing good tidings of great joy: “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”2 Wise men came traveling from the East, guided by the new star, with gifts for the Child. Who was this Jesus Christ? Why is his name still held in reverence by so many3?
The Good News
Everyone likes to hear good news. I love when I get to tell my wife, “I have good news.” Though it may be small and insignificant, good news is always cause for rejoicing. The first four books of the New Testament are prefixed with the same phrase: “The Gospel of …” The English word “gospel” comes from “god” (good) and “spel” (news). Additionally, the word “evangelical” is derived from the Greek word “euangelion” which means good news. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were writing to give us “good news,” the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In Jesus’ own words, the gospel can be summarized as follows:
Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.
And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.
And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.
The main points of the gospel, then, are:
- Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the very Jehovah, was born on Earth as a mortal, sent by His Father
- Jesus Christ was lifted up upon the cross. God was crucified by man.
- Jesus Christ was resurrected. Through His resurrection, every human will be resurrected, lifted up to stand before Jesus Christ to be judged of their works.
- Jesus Christ, our Judge and Advocate, has provided a way for us to be held “guiltless” at that day of judgment: repent, be baptized, and endure to the end.
The Plan: Why This Is Such Good News
I have some good news and I have some bad news. You’ve already heard the good news, now here’s the bad news. Your life on this Earth is incredibly short (#YOLO!!!). You may live 100 years at most, and then you die. This end is absolutely unavoidable, no matter what the headlines in Popular Science may say. We will all die. Nearly everyone who has ever lived on Earth already has died. All of our accomplishments, all of our relationships, all of our identity, wiped away, it seems, in a single, terrible moment. This truly is terrible news.
Now back to the good news. Back to the reason that we celebrate the birth of a Child. When Christ was born, it was clear to those who looked for a Savior, that the plan was in motion. For centuries, even millenia, the birth of the Savior had been foretold by prophets and anticipated by believers. The coming of Jesus Christ into the world was one step, one very important step, in a much bigger plan. His perfect obedience another step. His death on the cross was a part of the plan from before He was born. His overcoming of death through the resurrection from the tomb another part of the plan. We celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas because He did everything He needed to do to fulfill His part of the plan. He did it! And along the way, He taught us what we need to do to fulfill our part. That truly is the best kind of good news.