Ross Anderson, GWC lecturer, Biblical Studies
B.Th (Unisa); Dip Th (BISA); M.Th (UWC).
“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
(Mat 1:20-21 NIB)
You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. That is what Christmas is all about! We remember the birth of the Christ child with joy and praise to God the Father because he will save us from our sin. It’s a big thing. It is our greatest need. Our sin has brought us under the wrath and just judgment of God. Hell is real, and it’s horrific. Who can save us? Christmas reminds us that Christ came, Christ died, Christ rose again and is therefore able to save us from our sin.
I wonder when last you thought about how sinful humanity really is? Here is a brief reminder: Adam and Eve rebelled against their loving Creator and chose to serve the devil instead (Genesis chapter 3). The story of Genesis chapters 4-11 is one of humankind’s slide into ever-deeper sin. By Genesis 6, humanity’s sin has become rampant, so much so that the words used to describe the human race are words like ‘wickedness’, ‘evil’ and ‘corrupt’. We read that God was grieved that he had made men and women and his heart was filled with pain. Even after the redemption of Noah and his family the narrative confronts us again with human sin (Genesis 9). Then, in the story of the tower of Babel we see even greater sin (Genesis chapter 11). Babel is a monumental, communal attempt by the human race to wrest human autonomy from God once more.
Later in the story God chooses Abraham as part of his plan to save the world from sin and judgment, but Abraham turns out to be a liar, a coward and unfaithful to God. His descendants prove no better- after God saves them from Egyptian oppression they grumble against God and rebel against God. And so the sorry story of human sin continues all through history to our own generation. And the reality that you and I have to face is that we are no better than Adam and Eve, than Noah, than Abraham, than Old Testament Israel and all the others. Such is our human sin. And I wonder when last you thought about the terrible consequences of our sin? Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise never to reenter. Noah’s generation were destroyed in the mighty flood waters of God’s judgment. The grumbling Israelites all died under God’s judgment in the wilderness and never entered the promised land. And we remember Sodom and Gomorrah, plague, earthquake and exile. All these are only warnings of the final judgment when sinners will perish.
Back to our question, who can save us from sin and God’s judgment? Is there any hope for humanity? Can there be a meaningful future when we are so sinful? The answer is … Christmas! Let me take you to the best known verse in the whole Bible: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (Joh 3:16 NIB)
God loves the world … God loves us in spite of our sin. God loves a sinful world. He does not give up on his world. He does not give up on us. Instead, he sends his Son, the Lord Jesus, to rescue us from our sin and its eternal consequences. What love!
God the Son is God the Father’s Christmas gift to humanity and all of creation. When you get a Christmas gift from your family or from a friend you have to accept it, take the wrapping off and make the gift your own. So too with Christ. Have you received him?
You may have grown up in a Christian home, but have you received Christ? You may be a churchgoer, but have you received Christ by repentance and faith? You may have been baptized, confirmed and taken holy communion, but have you received Christ in personal trust? The moment you do God will forgive all your sin and then give you another Christmas gift – the gift of eternal life!
This is what Christmas is all about. This is what we celebrate. There is no better time to accept Christ as your Lord and Saviour, by faith, than today. God loves you so much that he gave you his Son. Will you receive his gift? Will you love him and give him your faith, your homage, your worship? That is the real Christmas. And you can celebrate it today!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (Joh 3:16 NIB)