Christmas and the Gospel

In less than one week, people all around the world will be celebrating the Christmas holiday.  Back in 1963, Andy Williams released a song that well describes this season as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” a time where ‘there’ll be much mistltoeing, and hearts will be glowing, when loved ones are near.’  You know how it goes.  For the followers of Jesus, this is a wonderful time of the year, but for reasons far greater than the ones that Williams mentioned in his song.  Christmas is great because of the gospel.  It is great because it serves as a yearly reminder that God stepped into the world of broken humanity in order to rescue us from sin and death.

In my opinion, the best summary of the theology of Christmas is the beloved hymn, “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” which just so happens to be my favorite carol.  Written in 1739 by Charles Wesley, and edited a bit by George Whitefield, the hymn encapsulates the meaning of Christmas and why the first advent of Christ was such a monumental occasion.  Pay close attention to these gospel-centered lyrics, and especially the last stanza which we seldom ever sing:

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild;
God and sinners reconciled.”
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic hosts proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

Christ, by highest heav’n adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord:
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail th’ incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus our Immanuel.

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings:
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth;
Born to give them second birth.

Come, Desire of nations, come!
Fix in us Thy humble home:
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head;
Adam’s likeness now efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Final Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.

Never forget that Christmas is all about the gospel!  Enjoy your family gatherings and gift exchanges this year, but don’t lose sight of the majesty of the incarnation.  The Son of God became the Son of Man so that the sons of men could become sons of God!  Hallelujah!

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