shepherds. span of stars. frightening-bright angels. messy manger. guiding star. gifts for the King.
we think we know the story, the oh-so-famous Christmas story. we could probably quote Luke 2 from memory. but if we can neatly fold and wrap the Christmas story into these few verses, then what's the significance of the angels saying, "fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." what's so good about this news of a crying baby wrapped in meager baby clothes?
if that's all the Christmas story is...
no, the Christmas story starts on page one of the Bible when God, the star-speaking, always-perfection, grace-giving, self-existent One, stretched out this earth and stretched out His arms to make man out of dust. man to love Him. man to worship Him. man to walk with Him. man to display His grace to. man to fill with joy.
but give us one page and mankind was already rebelling against this beautiful plan, thinking we could do it better on our own. and there in the cataclysmic destruction of the once-peaceful relationship between God and man, we hear whispers of Christmas. one day...one day, one of Eve's descendants would crush this lie-breathing serpent that instigated this whole mess. "he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heal." (genesis 3:15) and with that, as the world and the human race began to degrade and rot in hopelessness, the joy-filled promise of Jesus was whispered.
and so throughout the Bible, page after page, we hear some subtle, some blaring reminders of this promise. as to Abram, when God promised him, "in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (genesis 12:3) as to the Israelites when freed from their physical slavery in Egypt, reminded of the future Deliverer who would rescue their enslaved souls. as to Moses and God's people when faced with their utter inability to keep even the commands numbered ten. as to the prophets who time after time reminded the Israelites that God still loved them. that God was still pursuing them. that God was still going to send a Rescuer, a Satan-crusher. one day...
this hopeless world needed good news of great joy. they were slaves to sin and failures at meeting God's standards.
it was to this world, having waited for thousands of years, hundreds of generations, since that dark day in the garden, He finally came. after a stretch of 400 years of a hushed heaven, no reminders, no promises, no prophecies, the time was right.
God humbled Himself, veiled His deity and rights to glory, to come as a weak and wailing baby. this is a mystery beyond comprehension, the greatest in humanity. no formula or theorem can seek to prove or explain it. God with us.
and while generations would have been hopeless without the promise of Christmas, we find that we ourselves would be just as lost. for our condition of sin and separation from God is the same. our inability to keep God's law is the same. try as we might, we never are quite good enough. thus, that starry Christmas night is good news of great joy for all people--us! Someone came to crush Satan for us, to deliver us from our slavery, to be perfect for us, to short-circuit God's impending wrath, to restore us back to the relationship with God meant for us in the beginning, to please God for us. this is good news indeed!
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" (luke 2:14)