Have a “Merry” Christmas

December 25, 2022

silhouette of people riding on camels

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. - Matthew 2:10

Is it possible to have a "merry" Christmas today?

With the world in chaos, can we have a merry Christmas? Some say no, for the ongoing war, increasing prices of goods, broken relationships, mental and emotional depression and even the deaths of loved ones brought by the pandemic render this Christmas season a time of great fear and uncertainty. Some say yes, though we are living in difficult times, we still have opportunities to celebrate the Christmas event, have Christmas parties, Christmas bonuses, and the Christmas experience - quality time with family, or vacation time with friends. Even for a few days, one can have a "merry" Christmas.

Yet, a better question to ask is, are we the first to celebrate Christmas in troubling times? Are there people who celebrated Christmas with great joy even in troubling times? When we look at Scripture, we hear that the answer is an affirmative yes. The wise men were examples of those who celebrated Christmas with exceedingly great joy. The question that needs to be asked next then is, why were the wise-men in the first Christmas rejoicing "exceedingly with great joy?" Is it because they have it all together, that they were living in peaceful and prosperous times? Is it because they were able to get away from the stresses of life to be with important and significant people in their lives? No, they were rejoicing, not because of the advent of an event or experience, but because of the advent of a Person.

Immanuel, God with us, is the name given to this Person, and this I believe explains why the wise men were "merry" in the first Christmas. Timothy Keller, in his tweet on Christmas Day 2022, notes that the name "God with us" denotes three important truths about Jesus.

"God" denotes his deity. "God with" denotes His humanity. "God with us" denotes our legal and vital union with Christ, and the privilege of spiritual communion with him. Of course, the wise men may or may not have known the breadth and depth of the significance of the baby born as we do today. We have the benefit of these events coming to past, of viewing these events as our history. Yet they must have known He is not merely human but divine, for they wanted to worship Him (v.1). They must have known that God had become flesh, for they traveled far to search for Him in a particular place in a particular time (v.1). They must have known that God has come to redeem and rule His people with goodness, for they experienced great joy, and gave gifts befitting a ruler and redeemer (v.10-11).

This Christmas, how much do you know about Christ? If a shadow and glimpse of the knowledge of Christ has brought the wise men much joy, will it not bring us great joy, we who know more than the wise men on who this Christ is? Will it not give us great joy to know that Christ has come to save sinners, of whom I am the worse? Will it not bring us exceedingly great joy to know that Christ has come to deliver me from my slavery to my sin and my misery? Just as the bride rejoices when the bridegroom has finally come after much waiting, just as a child rejoices when His father has come to rescue Him from danger, will not our heart rejoice to know that the King has come to rescue and deliver His people from their sins?

This truth has comforted my heart and that of my mother and sisters, for in 2021 my father passed away due to cardiac arrest. This would be the 2nd Christmas that we are celebrating with my dad no longer physically present with us. Are there times we are sad or in tears? Yes, especially when we remember the fun times we have during Christmas dinner. We terribly miss him. Yet at the same time, we also rejoice with exceedingly great joy. For we are assured we will see him again. Not because we felt he was a good person, nor because of a prevalent myth that because I believe he is up there watching over me, that he is. No, I am assured that we will see each other once again, because there was a time he was dead in his trespasses and sins, and he was in danger of being justly punished to eternal damnation. Yet, Christ, the Savior of the world, was born, lived a perfect life, died, and rose again - to save sinners like my father, so that when they die, they will live again with Him for eternity. Because Christ has saved my father, we rejoice! We rejoice this Christmas! For Christ's birth truly ensured, that for those who believe - God is with us, and as a result, we will be with God.

May this reality- God with us - spur our affections to our Lord and make our heart "merry" this Christmas, no matter our circumstance or day to day experience. May our hearts meditate on Him who has generously come to save us, dwell with us, and ensure that the salvation is complete and perfect in Him. Thank you Jesus!

Merry Christmas.

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