by James Regehr
What a joyful message filled with excitement and hope. Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born!
I can still remember, as if it were yesterday, singing that song as a little boy during one of our Sunday School Christmas programs in church. Mrs. Dyck made sure that when we got to that “Go Tell It” we were all nearly shouting at the top of our lungs. We had no fear. We sang with all our hearts and voices and didn’t care if we were out of tune. Our excitement was all that mattered.
What Happened To The Excitement?
Somehow we got to a place in our lives where we don’t get as excited about Christmas as we once did. We don’t get as excited about Jesus’ birth as we once did, and Christmas has become a time when we focus on our families and church families. It has become a rather private time of celebration.
Perhaps this is at least in part because of the move in society away from the religious aspects of Christmas and even the avoidance in society to speak the phrase “Merry Christmas” replacing it, instead, with “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” or the infamous “Merry X-mas.”
Why is it Offensive?
The attack on Christ is not an attack on Christmas. Society doesn’t care whether we celebrate Christmas or not. Society doesn’t care whether we believe in Jesus or not. People say that using the word “Christ” is somehow offensive, and I have never understood why. What is so offensive? Is it offensive to believe that Jesus was a real person who lived roughly 2,000 years ago? To believe that Jesus taught that we should love one another?
Is it offensive to believe that Jesus lived a life without sin? To believe that Jesus modeled a way of life that is worthy to be imitated? To believe that Jesus was crucified and that God raised Him from the dead? To identify one’s self as a person who believes these things? To offer expressions of good will to others in the name of Jesus? There is nothing offensive in the words “Merry Christmas.”
They Don’t Know What It Means!
I think I have figured it out. We refer to “Jesus Christ” as if those were His first and last names, but Christ is not an actual name. No wonder society finds the phrase “Merry Christmas” offensive. People don’t understand what it means.
The King of Kings
Christmas celebrates the birth of the King of Kings. The Bible says that some day God will establish His Kingdom on earth. His Kingdom will be a perfect Kingdom. Nations will no longer fight against nations. Peace will exist throughout the whole earth. There will be no more disease, violence, corruption, injustice, suffering. The lion will lay down with the lamb and the whole earth will be like paradise. This coming Kingdom will be ruled by “the Christ.”
And as Christians, we believe that Jesus is that “Christ.” He is the coming ruler of the Kingdom of God. And although He was born, lived His life, died and was raised from the dead those so many years ago, we as Christians believe that He will one day return to set up the Kingdom of God as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
If you look at the teachings of Jesus, the one thing He said more than anything else was “the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Mark 1.15 calls this “Kingdom of God is at hand” message, “the gospel.” And, in general, society has not heard this “gospel.” Society has not heard that God will someday turn the earth into a paradise.
He is Also Our Saviour
When God created Adam, the first man, God was making a promise. You see, the word “Adam” is spelled in Hebrew with three letters alef, dalet, and mem. The prefix letter alef means “I will” and dalet and mem together mean “bleed.”
Was it by accident that when God created Adam, the first man, the letters used could be interpreted as “I will bleed”? Is there a hint here of a promise that some day Jesus would shed his blood for us in order to pay the penalty for our sins? I think so.
Not only is Jesus the King of Kings, He is also our Saviour. Christmas celebrates the birth of Immanuel, God Incarnate—the God who bled on our behalf in order to save us from our sins.
What an Amazing God!
The only true, all-powerful God, the Ruler of the Universe, the God of all compassion and mercy, left Heaven and was born in humblest of circumstances. He lived with us as one of us and showed us by being the way, the truth and the life. And we have come to know Him, and He has come to live within our hearts. What a reason to celebrate!
Good News of Great Joy for all People!
These are the words the angels spoke to the shepherds in Luke 2.10 and the angel went on to say: “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.”
The birth of Jesus: our Saviour, the Christ, the One Lord God Himself in the flesh. The most important birth in eternity—and that’s a very long time. There will never be a more important birth. What a reason to celebrate!
To loosely paraphrase Isaiah 9.2, there are people who are living in darkness and they are desperate for light. The darkness has spread over the whole earth and people everywhere are longing for relief from their suffering, distress, and hopeless despair. And we have the message they are waiting to hear.
We have the message of light and hope for the world. And how will they hear if we don’t tell them? Romans 10:13-14 says, “‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ But how can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone telling to them?”
God has placed us where we are right now, at least in part, because there are people around us who are waiting for us to tell them the Gospel. So have no fear. Shout and sing with all our hearts and voices. This joyful message is filled with excitement and hope. Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.
James Regehr has served as a pastor, including at Treesbank Community Church, and as the host of a Christian radio program. He lives in Yorkton, Sask., with his wife BettyAnn, and is shown here with his service dog.