It’s a familiar scene, not likely to be repeated this year. So we pull out the home videos of past Christmas concerts. A child dressed as an angel stands with arms outstretched as the narrator reads, “Fear not…” Then the entire children’s choir stands as the narrator continues, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying…” On cue, our precious little ones sing, “Glo-o-o-o-o-oria, in Excelsis Deo!” We delight for those few remembered moments in our children’s Christmas joy. But it isn’t long before we leave that digital video world and return to the disappointments, challenges, and threats that surround us in this political quagmire and COVID reality that is Christmas 2020. And we are left asking the question, “How can any reasonable adult be merry this Christmas?
To answer this question, we need to remember the troubling conditions that were present when the angels sang. Luke tells us that, “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus” (Luke 2:1). These words reveal that the angels’ joy was not rooted in childlike naivety. Satanic forces had empowered governments which then oppressed the people. Moral corruption ran wild within Israel. The faithful were ostracized, mocked, and threatened by violence and persecution at every turn. Sound familiar? The world Christ was born into was in many ways very much like our own.
And the angels were not a sweet children’s choir. They were “a multitude of the heavenly host” (Luke 2:13). In the Bible, “Lord of hosts” most often refers to God as the One who leads the armies of heaven, angels who battle Satan and the demonic forces. So, when the angel announced, “I bring you good news of great joy...For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11), these angels sang, in much the same way as ancient human armies sang as they entered the battle. This was a vast heavenly army, eager to fight against every power that threatens God’s plan and His people.
To understand the “great joy” of this first Christmas, we must recognize what was so amazing about Jesus’ birth.
First, the words “good news” or “gospel” usually makes us think of how Jesus brings salvation to individuals who believe in Him. “Good news” includes that but passages like 2 Samuel 18:31 show us that this phrase is actually the announcement of victory in battle. Second, the term “Saviour” makes us think again of how Jesus saves individuals from sin. Again, ‘Saviour” includes that, but passages like Zephaniah 3:17 teach that a “saviour” is a warrior, one who delivers His people from harm and grants deliverance and victory.
In response to the certainty of victory for “Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11), the angelic army sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” (Luke 2:14). And this praise should fill every heart, even the hearts of “reasonable” adults. Evil threatens on every side, literally, but we know the good news that victory is sure. Christ our victorious warrior has been born.
Jesus is our hope and this is the hope that we have for Christmas and everyday.
What does this hope mean in your life? Let us know in the comments, we would love to hear from you.