With Christmas fast approaching, many of us are already wondering how we’re going to get everything done. It’s the holiday that seems to require the most planning and preparation, yet that preparation has very little to do with the reason for the season.
Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie contrasts our modern Christmas with that very first Christmas. The heart of Christmas isn’t in our to-do lists; it’s in the incredible fact that Christ entered our world, changing everything.
A Message of Joy
Greg believes the message of the first Christmas was a message of joy, and that joy is Christ Himself. It doesn’t come from what is under the tree, it comes from the One who died on the tree. It’s not about Christmas presents, it’s about His presence in our lives.
‘The reality is, commercial Christmas cannot really deliver on its promises,’ says Greg. ‘It can’t bring you the delight that it offers. But Christ Himself can.’
That first Christmas, the Angel Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her that she is going to be the mother of the Messiah. An angel also tells Joseph that he should stay with Mary and marry her, and that the one who would come would be called Jesus.
Do Not Be Afraid
‘It seems like a horrible thing to have to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem,’ says Greg, ‘but of course this is a fulfilment of Bible prophecy. They’re in that manger because there was no room. In the end, the Son of God was born. It was the most momentous event in all of history, the eternal God literally becoming a foetus and being born of a woman.’
Thousands of angels appeared to shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, with the message that the Messiah had come. And they were greatly afraid. But the angels said, Do not be afraid for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the City of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.
‘God didn’t appear to the religious snobs of the day, or even to Caesar,’ says Greg. ‘He went to these people instead and said, I’ve got good news. It’s a boy and He’s the Messiah. God left the self-righteous religious hypocrites off His Christmas mailing list.’
God Can Bring Good
God wants us to experience joy in this season, but Christmas can be a tough time for many. With the pain and suffering we see, it’s easy to forget that God can still bring good. The worst thing that ever happened in human history was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Yet out of that came the redemption of all of mankind.
‘When people are hurting and sad,’ says Greg, ‘we must not lose the essential message of joy. Because fear robs us of the joy of Christmas. Fear is what Christmas came to remove, and now we can have joy in its place. The condition of joy is to let go of fear.’
‘You can choose to have joy. Don’t wait for the emotion. You can have joy in this Christmas season, because you have a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.’
Listen to Greg’s full message on A New Beginning below: