You might wonder: why all the fuss about Christmas? After all, nothing has changed, has it? Take a look at Matthew’s Gospel where Herod slaughters the innocents of Bethlehem. Now, two thousand years later, we still see tyrants in different areas of our globe: Asia, Africa and Europe; and in addition, innocents being slaughtered, like the 133 Pakistani school kids a week ago. So, what really has changed?
In order to answer this, we do need to go back to Matthew’s Gospel, chapter one in fact. It’s the first chapter of the first book of what we call the “New Testament.” There is a reason for calling it “New”, for something very different happened. Joseph has just heard that his betrothed is with child and is considering divorcing her privately. An angel speaks to him in his sleep commanding him to take Mary as his wife because the Child is of the Holy Spirit. At verse 21, Joseph is also told to name the Child,
“…Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
In the next verse Matthew tells us that this is a fulfilment of Isaiah 7:14,
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a Son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us’.”
This is good news. These two scriptures give us the beginnings of two great doctrines of the Christian faith: the Incarnation of the Son of God, and His saving death on the cross for all the sins of humanity. Up until this time, sin had dominion over the human race. In Genesis 6:5, we read that God saw,
“…the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
And Paul says in Romans 3:23,
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
But now God has changed everything. He sent His Son in human flesh to die for us so that we would no longer be under the power of sin and death.
You might respond that this is all fine and dandy; but what does it have to do with me today? What does this game-changer look like in our own daily lives? It sounds just like theory. What does it mean in the nuts and bolts of practical living?
Part of my work has been to give spiritual counselling to young men coming off drugs and alcohol abuse. Two such young men in the past few years seemed beyond change. One of them surprised me at a banquet and informed me that he had been “clean” for over a year and was active in a church. The other contacted me and told me he was getting baptized. Even today, I have been mentoring another young man who has been struggling valiantly against alcohol abuse and an illegal substance known on the street as “crystal meth”. He has been free barely a month, yet he lives in a stable situation with a group of supportive men in similar circumstances. He is being trained up in the scriptures and his whole attitude has changed. I have known him for seven years and there have been many set backs. But the words that come from his mouth today clearly show that the Holy Spirit is working in him. In his actions he has become less self-absorbed and has even begun to minister to others on the street.
My friend, Jesus Christ is a life-changing Saviour! At Christmas time we celebrate His entry into our broken world. As you honestly look at yourself, do you see that you need to change? Turn to Jesus and cling to Him! He is God’s ultimate game changer!