DECEMBER 24, 2021

Christmas has finally Come.
We rejoice that the Word has become flesh, that God the Son has become human while remaining divine.
There is no more waiting because the Messiah has arrived and now is the time of liberation from our enslavement to sin.
But this is not surprising since, in the Hebrew Scriptures (Christians call the Old Testament), this arrival had been prophesied for many centuries before the birth of Christ.

The prophets taught that God would intervene dramatically in human history, redeeming his people by defeating the power of sin, thereby bringing an end to oppression and injustice (which are some of the consequences of sin), and by establishing freedom, peace and happiness. God would send the Saviour to rescue his people from their long-lasting trials and tribulations. As a result, the world and human life would never again be the same.

In Isaiah’s words the prophecy was definite: ‘For there is a child born for us, a son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace. Wide is his dominion in a peace that has no end’ (Isaiah 9:5-7). This particular prophecy is one of the most important messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures.

The prophecy was fulfilled at the Incarnation and the birth of Jesus. He is the ‘Son of the Most High’ (Luke 1:32) who was destined to be the Saviour of the world. He is the light that came into the world casting away the darkness of sin and cancelling human estrangement from God (see John 1:9).

We are the descendants, both historically and spiritually of the many generations of people who ‘walked in darkness’ (Isaiah 9:1) for centuries as they waited and prepared for the Messiah’s arrival. Sadly, we become lost in spiritual darkness whenever our lives are sinful. Our challenge at Christmas is to abandon sin and invite the light of Christ to shine in our lives.

When, with the light of God’s grace, we overcome the darkness of sin, we are able to contribute to the ending of oppression and injustice in our world. That is what Jesus meant when, during his public ministry thirty years after his birth, he advised his disciples: ‘Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well’ (Matthew 6:33).

Christmas is a time for both giving and receiving gifts. The greatest gift that God gives us is sending his only Son among us to redeem us from the effects of sin. Christmas celebrates the reality that God is with us uniquely in and through Jesus Christ.

We are encouraged at Christmas to renew our hope in God because he has intervened spectacularly in history, particularly by becoming human, to save us from sin and death. Christmas is about life and light — the life offered us in Christ and his light which destroys the spiritual darkness of sin. We rejoice and are glad that he lives among us.

Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you;
he is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)

John Littleton