Christmas is about much more than just sharing warm emotions and memories. It’s about what God supplies and shares. Christmas is about God’s faithfulness made tangible through history. It’s about how God has touched our lives with His love.
CHRISTMAS IS…For People Who Have Nothing – This text from Isaiah is a 2,500-year-old Christmas greeting from God. God originally sent this greeting to those Jewish people who were exiled in Babylon (present-day Iraq) in the sixth century B.C. The Lord also had the prophet send this greeting to the ragtag handful of people who remained behind in Jerusalem, the once proud capital of the Jewish nation. Whether they were hauled off to Babylon or remained in the ruins of Jerusalem – it must have seemed that their whole world was out of control. Their ancient homeland of Israel, once promised to their ancestor Abraham and his family, was destroyed. The temple, built by great King Solomon, had been trashed and torched by the armies of Babylon. There must have been an ache in their hearts as these people prayed to God. They had nothing.
God is faithful. He sent a greeting of hope to these hopeless people: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tiding, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” The God of faithful love and mercy came to His weary and lonely people with a message of good news. “Your God reigns!” God would make it possible for those exiled in Babylon to return home. He would establish peace. And so, messengers ran ahead from Babylon back to Jerusalem proclaiming this wonderful news, Babylon is conquered! The exile is over!” What a message for those who had nothing!
We can relate to this Christmas greeting because, in reality, we are a people who have nothing. As we stand before God we see our sins are cause for a spiritual exile. God has every reason to cast us out of His presence – to send us away from His goodness. Adam and Eve forsook the complete, wholesome, peace that was theirs in Paradise. As a result, we lack that perfect peace. In fact, we don’t even deserve it. We don’t even deserve the little blessings God gives in our lives. We don’t deserve our homes, our families, or our livelihood. We don’t deserve this church. We don’t deserve God’s message of hope. The truth is we deserve to be exiled to sin and death forever. We, too, are a people who have nothing.
We may have the things that provide temporary pleasure, and we might think that’s enough. Our sinful hearts may think it’s enough to hear Christmas carols on the radio or to taste Christmas cakes. But that’s not enough. Such things cannot fill our hearts with peace. It’s at Christmas that many people feel depressed and alone. It’s at Christmas that we miss loved ones who have passed away. The glitter of the holidays just isn’t enough to keep peace in our hearts. That is not what Christmas is. For Christmas is nothing and we have nothing if we don’t have God’s greeting of “good tidings.”