This article and the previous one are guests posts by Kirk Zylstra, pastor of Everton Park Church, a Presbyterian Reformed Church in Brisbane. They’re an abridgment of a Christmas message.


Who is this baby?

Christmas is a time of joy. We enjoy family, friends, food, and the fun of holidays. But in the Bible, Jesus brought joy to unexpected people – bad people, immoral people, social outcasts. We saw that in our previous post.

How can Jesus bring joy to wicked people? How does he have the right to do that?

The angel who announced the good news of joy to the shepherds explained this. He said, in Luke 2:11, that the child is a “saviour, Christ the Lord”. Then in Luke 2:12 he says they’ll find the baby “wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger”.

Jesus is God with us

The first reason Jesus is good news to bad people is: he’s one of us, a normal human being. Matthew 1:25 makes it clear that he was conceived in a miraculous way, without sexual activity. But he came into the world through a normal process of birth. And he was born into very humble circumstances – to a poor family, who couldn’t even find accommodation, and had to put him in an animal feeding trough.

But this baby, while human, is not only human. Luke has already hinted that this saviour, Jesus, is divine. Luke 1:32 describes Jesus as the “Son of the Highest”, and by the end of the book Jesus himself will acknowledge that he is the Son of God. He is divine and yet he is born.

In other words, he is God, and yet, he is human. In fact, he is God with us, as a human.

And that should bring us great joy. Because in Jesus we have one who bridges the gap between God and man.

It’s like the stories that you sometimes get of two feuding families, who have been fighting each other for generations. But then one day, two people from the respective families marry each other. And all of a sudden, the families have this point of union which might bring peace between them.

That’s what we have in Jesus.

In Jesus, God enters into union with humanity. In Jesus, he enters into our broken world and takes on human flesh. So that now, in Jesus, we have a point of contact with God. Jesus mediates between these two divided parties. He is able to bring us together.

This is good news which should make us rejoice. Jesus is God, with us. In union with us.

Jesus came to save

But that’s not all. Jesus is God, with us, come to save. That’s what the angel told the shepherds in Luke 2:11: a “saviour” is born.

In my previous post, I talked about how we are all bad people. Actually, that’s not a strong enough image. We declare war on God. We’re rebels against him. That’s what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 5:10: Christ died for us while we were God’s “enemies”.

This is what we need to be saved from: our war, our rebellion, against God. And this is why Jesus came into this world as saviour. He came to rescue us from the consequences, the punishment, for that rebellion. In his life, Jesus lived the life that I should have lived – a life of complete obedience to God, and complete love towards those around him. In his death, Jesus died the death that I should have died. He took the punishment I deserved for rebelling against God, and took it upon himself. And in his resurrection, Jesus demonstrated that he is victorious over sin and death, and that there is life for me beyond the grave.

And he did this as God, with us as man. This is important because it means Jesus really has the power, and the right, to save us completely. The great 19th century Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon, put it this way:

What joy there is in this! For suppose an angel had been our Saviour, he would not have been able to bear the load of my sin or yours; or if anything less than God had been set up as the ground of our salvation, it might have been found too frail a foundation. But if he who undertakes to save is none other than the Infinite and the Almighty, then the load of our guilt can be carried upon such shoulders, the stupendous labour of our salvation can be achieved by such a worker, and that with ease: for all things are possible with God, and he is able to save to the uttermost them that come to God by him.[1] Sermon No. 1026, Delivered on Lord’s-Day Morning, December 24th, 1871, At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London.

He’s saying that Jesus’ divinity gives us assurance that Jesus really can save us from our condemnation. We could have no such confidence if he were only a man – even a perfect man. We could have no such confidence if Jesus were an angel – even a mighty angel, the highest angel. He could only save us, completely and finally, if he is who he actually is: God, come to earth as a man.

This is why, in Luke 2:13-14, a group of angels appeared to the shepherds, and shout out God’s praises, saying “glory to God” and “peace on earth”. Jesus brings peace between the two parties that used to be at war – peace between God and man. He does this in himself, as God and man. But he doesn’t do it only for himself. He does it for us – for us bad people, sinners, rebels, at war with God. Jesus is God with us, mighty to save.

Rejoice in Jesus this Christmas

Christmas is a time of joy. We enjoy our family, friends, food, and fun.

But these are nothing compared to the ultimate, eternal joy we can find in Christ Jesus our saviour! It’s like comparing the joy of having a good meal to the joy of being pardoned and released from prison! There’s just no comparison!

Think of it this way. On the 25th of April 2006 a small earthquake triggered an underground rock fall at the Beaconsfield gold mine in northern Tasmania. Fourteen of the miners managed to scramble to safety. However, one was killed, and two, Brant Webb and Todd Russell, were trapped underground in one of the vehicles that they were working in. They survived for five days by drinking groundwater collected in their helmet and sharing a single muesli bar between the two of them.

Thankfully, they were located on the 30th of April, and food and drink and fresh air were delivered to them through a small pipe. However, it was not until the 9th of May – two weeks after the rockfall – that the rescuers were able to get them out. When they emerged from the lift which brought them back to the surface, “the church bell which signified their salvation was heard throughout the town” of Beaconsfield.

That’s the kind of joy the Bible’s referring to here. Fist-pumping, family-hugging elation. The joy of being rescued, of being saved. But here, in the Bible, not just from being trapped underground – bad as that was – but from eternal judgment for our rebellion against God.

So then, here’s the question we each need to answer: have you come to this Jesus? The Jesus who is truly both God and man. The Jesus who, as God and man, lived the truly human life of fully obeying God and loving everyone around him? The Jesus who, as God and man, gave himself to death, taking the punishment for your rebellion against God? The Jesus who rose again, still fully human, and now rules the universe as a glorified man at the right hand of God the Father? Have you come to this Jesus and put your faith in him?

Because if you have, then you have the ultimate reason to rejoice this Christmas – and every Christmas after that, and forever.

References   [ + ]

1. Sermon No. 1026, Delivered on Lord’s-Day Morning, December 24th, 1871, At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London.