Christmas is always a great time of year. The weather is cool. Greetings of Merry Christmas are exchanged with strangers, friends, and family alike. Your mailbox and then your refrigerator fills up with Christmas cards from family and friends. Your social media feeds are filled with sayings like “Jesus is the reason for the season” or reminders to “Keep Christ in Christmas.”
While it is right and good for us to do these things and celebrate Jesus in these ways, what I’m afraid of is that we allow these things to replace how we are to biblically respond to the good new of Jesus at Christmas.
How should we biblically respond to the good news of Jesus Christ at Christmas?
The shepherds’ response in Luke chapter two acts as a model, which means their response should be our response.
I. We must respond to the good news of Jesus at Christmas by searching for the truth (vs. 1-16)
After Jesus’ birth, an angel sent from God appeared to the shepherds in the field and revealed that Jesus, the long awaited Messiah, had been born. He told them that Jesus was close, just a few minutes away lying in a manger sleeping. Hearing the angel’s message, the shepherds said to one another,
“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.” (Lk 2:15–16)
So confronted with the reality of Jesus’ birth, the shepherds decided to search out the truth, which is what we must do as well. We must search out the truth of Jesus to see if His life, ministry, and sacrifice is a reality.
II. We must respond to the good news of Jesus at Christmas by believing the truth (vs. 17-18)
After setting out on their journey to find Jesus, the shepherds found Him, just as the angel said. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Seeing everything just as the angel had said, they believed. We know they believed based on their actions. The first thing they did was reveal the angel’s message. In verses 17 and 18 Luke writes,
“And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” (Lk 2:17-18)
As well as in the next verse, which we will get to in more detail in a moment, the shepherds went away glorifying and praising God. Their actions, then, tell us they believed.
Likewise, when we find the message of the gospel to be true, we should respond in the same way. We should respond by believing the good news about Jesus — that He is the God-sent Savior who has come to take the sins of the world away.
But often times, when confronted with the truth of the gospel, people refuse to believe. When people refuse to believe in Jesus they show that:
(1) They haven’t grasped the magnitude of the message of the gospel.
They haven’t grasped the reality that Jesus came and died on the cross in order to save us from the wrath of God and to deliver us from the bondage of sin, satan, and death. It hasn’t sunk in that God Himself has come on a rescue mission for His people. That the Father sent His only Son to die so that we could experience everlasting life.
(2) They don’t see their need for a Savior.
Most often when people don’t see their need for a Savior it’s because they don’t recognize how sinful they really are. That is partly the fault of the society in which we live with all that it teaches about self-esteem and that we really are good, we just need to mine that goodness out of ourselves.
However, our refusal to recognize and admit our sinfulness is also, and primarily, the result of our sinful nature. We believe the mumbo jumbo our culture feeds us because we want it to be true. We desperately want to be much better than we really know ourselves to be because we don’t want to have to admit that we need a Savior.
But here is the thing, we do need a Savior because in and of ourselves, we can’t repair our relationship with God. We are sinners through and through, so much so that even our best works, the ones we think are surely earning us favor with God, are like filthy rags. They are worthless, only good to be thrown away.
(3) They don’t understand this world can’t offer them the peace they seek.
This world is full of false promises. It tells us if we just drive this, live here, vacation there, work for so and so, take this drug or drink, we will experience peace and relief. But that’s not true. Sure we can numb ourselves to the effects of the sinful world with drugs and things, but we all know they don’t ultimately provide the peace for which we long. We know this because we keep going back for more. One hit, bottle, or shopping spree is never enough. That’s why Americans are as addicted and in debt as they are. They are searching for peace in all the wrong places.
There is, however, one person who can offer us the peace for which we long, Jesus. He does that by freeing us from the bondage of the sinful world, as well as by making peace between us and the Father through His sacrifice on the cross. We can experience the peace of Jesus by repenting of our sins and believing that Jesus is our Lord and Savior.
III. We must respond to the good news of Jesus at Christmas by glorifying and praising God (vs. 20)
After the shepherds returned to their sheep, the text tells us that they were
“…glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” (Lk 2:20)
We too should respond as the shepherds do. We should glorify and praise God for the salvation that He provides.
We can glorify and praise God in a number of ways.
- We can glorify and praise God by singing songs of praise to Him.
- We can glorify and praise God by talking about Him to others.
- We can glorify and praise God by trusting Him
- We can glorify and praise God by obeying Him
In all these ways we can glorify and praise God, which is what we should be driven to do when we truly recognize the magnitude of the salvation He provides.
Question for Reflection
- Have you responded biblically to the good news of Jesus this Christmas?
Post adapted from my sermon How Should We Respond to the Good News of Jesus at Christmas?