Pastor Terry Goerz,
Redeemer Lutheran Church
As you read this Christmas will be a week away. In the hustle and bustle of preparations for Christmas we often do not take time to ponder what the gift of the Christ Child brings to us as Christians.
One of my favourite Christmas Scripture sections is Luke 2: 8–14 – “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.’”
The secular world may be saying “what peace”. In the 2,000 years since Christ was born the world has seen continual war and conflict. It is true even today, all over the world.
Well, the peace given to men on whom God’s favour rests is not the kind of peace we need to settle the conflicts and wars that have and continue to happen. It is not peace between men, it is peace between God and man – “peace to men on whom God’s favour rests”.
In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were deceived, disobeyed God, and they died a spiritual death that God told them would happen when they ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Every inclination of man’s heart was now toward evil, man now had a sinful nature. That spiritual death separated man from God. We became alienated from God and were his enemies because of our sin and sinful nature.
“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour.” [Colossians 1:21]
God promised Adam and Eve He would fix the problem their disobedience created. He did this by sending his Son, Jesus the Christ, to be born as a human being, to live a sinless life, and to die, crucified on a cross, in our place.
We are the ones who sin. The sinless Son of God, as he was dying on the cross, took upon Himself the sin of the whole of humanity, past, present and future, and received the full wrath of God for all that sin. The penalty of sin is death. Jesus made that payment on our behalf.
In being obedient unto death Jesus defeated Satan, who held the power of death. Jesus demonstrated His victory over Satan by rising from the dead after three days.
What Jesus did in paying for our sin made possible our reconciliation to God. By faith in what Jesus did for us we become holy in God’s sight, free from any blemish and unable to be accused any longer by Satan.
“But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the Gospel.” [Colossians 1: 22-23]
“For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! [Romans 5:10]
This reconciliation is the “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” that the angel of the Lord announced, and is the peace that the heavenly host sang about. It is available for all people, but is accessed by faith in the work of Jesus. Faith in His sinless life, death on our behalf, and resurrection from the dead.
Not just believing that Jesus was a real person who lived and died on the cross. Satan knows that with certainty, but it does him no good. We become “men on whom God’s favour rests” when we do not just believe in Jesus, but fully trust that He has accomplished our reconciliation with God.
That faith, that trust is a gift from God, and comes to us as we hear, read and study our Bibles.
“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” [Romans 10:17]
So as you celebrate Christmas this year, take time to ponder what the gift of the Christ Child brings to us as Christians. Reconciliation with God through faith in Jesus the Christ.