“O message deep and true!
A Son is given to us,
and His name is Wonderful!”
Let this resound jubilantly in all of us. Such great things happened in Bethlehem for mankind, and it is as someone said, “The angels have no need of a Savior; the devils do not want Him. He has come for our sake, and we need Him.” Therefore, let us read with renewed attention the account of the birth of Jesus from Luke 2, and it will become great to us anew: Christmas is the pinnacle of God’s love.
The Savior sent into the world
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son” (Galatians 4:4). The annals of salvation occurred within the framework of world history. God does everything in due time. The Romans, rulers of the land, helped carry out God’s plan. Their command led Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. Luke begins his report: “It came to pass” – God makes history. It segues into the fundamental turning point of all time. The word of the prophet Micah (chapter 5:1) is fulfilled; salvation begins in Bethlehem.
The Savior was born, sent for all the world. Yes, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). This is an incomprehensible love, a love that mankind does not deserve. When we understand that God loves us, then we actually see the culmination of this love in the giving of His Son.
Not received by the people
The Son of God, sent into the world as a helpless child, found no room in the inn, no room in His own creation. In the original text, this is expressed even more strongly: “There was no room for them!” We can also express it like this: “There was no room for the great love of God.” Jesus came into His own, but they did not receive Him; they refused to give Him shelter.
The Savior came when the time was fulfilled. But according to the people, He came inopportunely then – and for many also today! How often Jesus comes inopportunely – one has no time for reflection, for silence, for contemplation of the Word.
What can Christmas mean to us then? We like to sing the song: “‘Tis the most silent time of year,” but we do not take the time to meet God in His Son. And yet Christmas has so much to say to us, because “this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). It is not enough to just sing, “Christ, the Savior is born.” One must also allow oneself to be saved. Whoever sets out in his heart to walk in the Spirit to the manger in sincere repentance and penitence finds not only the child; he finds the salvation of God, and he experiences that here is the pinnacle of love.
The great message of God’s love
“Gloria in excelsis deo” – so resounded the angels’ praise over the shepherds’ field in Bethlehem. The appearance of the angelic hosts on earth points to the destiny of Christ: Heaven and earth will find each other; the love of God builds the bridge. God’s holiness is revealed in love, and the small planet Earth will receive the Lord of the world. “For there is born to you…a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
This is good news for our sick world. Into the midst of our life, God’s salvation comes. He becomes our friend, and He wants to heal us. All that is broken by sin, all disharmony, now comes to Him. This Lord wants to be our Savior out of love.
The heavenly world rejoiced, “Glory to God in the highest!” They praised God who revealed Himself in great love through the Son. So we, too, should consider this praising as our task.
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1) – made possible by giving His Son. The birth of Jesus is a divine mystery, a fact that must be accepted and believed if we are to experience the love of God in our own hearts. Does God still have to wait for our thanks? What else should He do to make our hearts free and joyful? He already gave Himself in Jesus Christ – the pinnacle of love!
But the message of the angels says further: “Peace on earth!” Only He, who is peace Himself, can offer peace. Let us not look for peace in the world, nor in our surroundings, nor in ourselves, but only in the Savior of the world. Only through Him will there truly be peace on earth among those who want peace.
The love of God – believed by the shepherds
The shepherds obediently took the road to Bethlehem and found what they were looking for. They convinced themselves of what they had heard. What good are a thousand Christmas celebrations and gifts? What matters is the finding. The shepherds found the love of God physically in the child in the manger. Thus, they became messengers of His love. They told the good news, the message of joy and peace. They therefore became the first Christian missionaries. They praised and glorified God. Their situation had not changed; they remained shepherds and often had difficult days, but their hearts were filled with great joy. They also offered up worship to the child in the manger. They deeply understood: “God became man for our benefit.”
Once we become introspective about this fact of God’s love in the birth of the Son, our lives are transformed, and we can heartily join in the Christmas hymn of praise: “Christ the Savior is born!”