Editor’s note: As has become custom, we invite local clergy to write our Christmas edition editorial. This year’s piece is written by Associate Pastor Kyle Wassell of the Meadow Valley Community Church.
Christmas is here. For some that means egg nog, carols and a winter wonderland. For others Christmas means gifts — everything from a reluctantly received fruitcake to a new Lexus with a giant red bow parked nicely in the snow. Still others, it sadly means another holiday without a loved one at the family table. Christmas can bring to mind the most enjoyable and also most sorrowful reminders of the year. Fitting, too, because the essence of Christmas is a mixture of both joy and sorrow.
If we were to look back at the “first Christmas” we would see the nation of Israel was dwelling in the land God had promised them, but doing so dejectedly. They had experienced a millennia of wars and exiles only still to be in wait of this Messiah who would deliver them from all their troubles.
As God is known for, the sort of deliverance he had planned was far greater than anything they could have imagined. To be sure Israel desired to be delivered from their Roman oppressors. Many in Israel anticipated a deliverance that was simply another escape from the latest powerful empire. But God had something quite else in mind. Not content to provide another earthly savior, which would be the latest in a long line of Israel’s failed saviors, God would send a savior quite unlike any other.
That Savior, the Messiah, was not just a human savior but was truly the only Savior. Not only that, but the Messiah was no mere man, like king David or king Solomon. No, this Messiah was God himself. God would come and deliver his people. But he would not just bring a deliverance from a neighboring hostile nation but far greater: God would deliver his people from their sins. And he would not limit the salvation he brings to the nation of Israel, but would come to save all mankind from their sins.
The Scripture records God’s arrival into the world in the most astonishing way. God would not come in the form of his unapproachable light, but would come in the flesh — God would become man. Matthew’s gospel informs us, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Speaking of the Virgin Mary, God would personally come into this world to save his people from their greatest enemy — sin. Jesus of Nazareth is that Messiah.
In Christmas we celebrate with great joy the fulfilled hope Jesus brings over deliverance from sin. Of course, this is where we are reminded of true sorrow. It was not for Jesus’ sin he came into the world. but our own. And to accomplish our deliverance it was necessary Jesus die on behalf of all those who would place their faith in him as the anticipated Messiah. Here is the essence of Christmas: sorrow over sin, but also the exceeding joy; remembering God has come to bring glad tidings.