You know Christmas is near when the radio begins to play Christmas favourites. “Have yourself a merry little Christmas…” TV stations begin to screen collages of warm Christmas scenes from the movies.
Christmas is feel good time. For a little while we turn our eyes away from the pains of the world and the pains in our hearts. Christmas is a recess from grief as we holiday for awhile in the world of carols, gift exchanges and pageants.
Indeed we feel we deserve our little recess. There is so much wrong in the world. There is so much grief in our lives. And the New Year will be upon us soon enough, with its rude call to get on with life.
Christmas is a much needed emotional recess. Christmas is feel good time.
But not for Herod. When he heard that the Messiah was to be born, he didn’t feel good at all. Indeed the Scripture records for us that:
“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened….” (Matthew 2: 1-3 NRSV)
Herod was frightened because Christmas meant that the rightful king had come. His cruel reign was under threat. No wonder he was frightened.
For the coming of the Messiah means that the invasion had begun. The rightful king of the world had entered human history. All wrongful tyrants were at risk. Herod, satan, sin, death, injustice, pain, disease, hatred- all wrongful tyrants were at risk. The King had come. The kingdom of God had once again broken into human history, bringing its promise of healing and hope, light and life, and holiness, and love. Christmas is the commemoration of the beginning of God’s campaign to retake the world for Himself.
A feel good time? Christmas is the commemoration of a cosmic D-Day! Indeed every Christmas is a reminder that there is a war going on.
It began with the coming of Christ. The decisive victory was won at the Cross. But the final victory will be won when Christ returns.
Every Christmas then should be a renewed call to arms for the followers of Jesus Christ.
There is so much wrong in the world. There is so much wrong in our own lives. The battle rages!
Fight on with the weapons of God. Fight on through prayer, through love, through the gospel. Fight on by being salt and light in every sphere of life. Fight on in the power of the Holy Spirit and with the Word… As we enter the 21st century there are so many opportunities to minister in the Name of Christ.
Christmas as a spiritual anaesthetic? No way! Christmas–a wake up call to recommit ourselves to the battle.
Make 2001 count.