Scenes of Bethlehem, the manger, singing angels or “the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay” give us warm feelings, and may even help us remember why we celebrate Christmas. And boy howdy, we certainly need reminding! We get so caught up in all the secular aspects of the holidays that we pretty much forget that we’re commemorating Christ’s birth.
Or if we do actually remember why we celebrate Christmas, we usually romanticize the story. More than that, we separate it from its larger context. We keep our adoration on the innocent Babe, vaguely aware that He is somehow holy. But we get a little bit uncomfortable with acknowledging His deity and understanding that He took our sins upon Himself when He suffered and died on the cross. In short, we prefer the Baby in the manger to the Lord and Savior Who calls us to repent and follow Him.
We ignore the clear Gospel declaration that the angels made when they announced Christ’s birth to the shepherds.
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” ~~Luke 2:8-14 (ESV)
Christ the Savior–not only to oppressed Israel, but also to all people! Therefore, He offered a salvation that encompassed far more than Rome’s occupation of Israel. As Savior to all people (meaning all national groups rather than every individual), Jesus ransoms us from the tyranny of sin.
If salvation has to do with sin, we then face the fact that we are sinners. I agree with my church’s doctrinal statement that identifies all humans as sinners “by nature and by choice.” The angels announced Christ as the Savior Who would go to the cross as our substitute, shedding His blood to appease the righteous wrath of the Father.
The angels also proclaimed Christ as Lord, thereby declaring His deity. The Baby in Bethlehem’s manger created the heavens and the earth. After dying on a Roman cross, He would rise from the dead as proof of His mastery over sin and death. Consequently, He deserves worship for all eternity, and one glorious day He will take His redeemed people to His kingdom.
The Baby of Christmas rules the universe, calling all creatures to bow before Him as He judges the secrets of our hearts.