Unto us a child is born, to us a son is given. (Isaiah 9:6)
Today is the first day of December, which means Christmas is finally drawing near. As a pastor, I am reminded that the Christmas season is filled with mixed emotions. For some, as the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” . . . but for others, it is a time of fresh reminders of painful providences from a Christmas now past, reminders which make the Christmas season the most painful time of the year for many.
I relate to both groups quite well. To be sure, the Christmas season is a wonderful time of the year for the Boland family. We make our annual trek to Disney World to share in Mickey’s Christmas. We take out the decorations, turning our Florida home into a winter wonderland. Most importantly, it is the time of the year when we are reminded of the good news of the Gospel, proclaimed a little more than 2,000 years ago on that first Christmas morning in the little town of Bethlehem.
Inasmuch as Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year for our family, it is also the most painful. Both of my parents went home to be with the Lord during the Christmas season: Mom after only a six-week battle against cancer during the 2014 Christmas season and Dad on Christmas Day, 1995. Both of these painful memories are reminders of how desperately we need the good news of the Gospel.
You see, sin brought death into this world, but God promised us life through His Son, Jesus Christ. Death is not the end for the Christian; death has lost its sting because Jesus conquered death when He came out of the grave on the third day. And that is the glorious good news of the Gospel. By trusting in the atoning work of Jesus Christ as our Savior, our sins are forgiven and then death merely marks the beginning of life eternal with Him.
“Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43 NKJV)
So regardless of where this Christmas season finds you—whether it is filled with wonder and joy or marred by pain and sorrow or, as it is for me and for many of you, mixed with some of both—keep the good news of the Gospel in view. God promised a Savior, and on that first Christmas morning He fulfilled that promise in the birth of the baby Jesus. But Jesus did not stay a baby. He grew up, increased in wisdom and stature, lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death, rose supernaturally from the grave, and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father.
Jesus knows the wonder of Christmas and He knows the pain of it too. When He promised to never leave nor forsake you, He meant with He said! Jesus is not only with you, He is for you. Remember that glorious truth over the next 25 days as we advance toward Christmas Day.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!