Every Christmas we are reminded of the message that the angel of the Lord proclaimed to a group of lowly shepherds who were out in the field watching over their flock at night (v.8). In Luke 2:10-12 it is written,
“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (ESV)
What was so “good” about this news? What was so joyful about the announcement of this baby’s birth?
First, the good news of Christmas is that the baby who was born that day was the “Savior” (v.11). And this Savior was not just born, but born “unto you” (v.11). In other words, He was born for our sakes. It is the same language that is found in the Messianic prophecy found in Isaiah 9:6-7, where we read:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (King James Version, emphasis mine)
Second, the birth of Jesus was not only the birth of the Savior, but also the birth of One who was and is “Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). As God spoke through the prophet Isaiah hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, the child who was born “unto us,” and the son who was given “unto us” was none other than “the Lord,” the “mighty God.”
Only someone who is truly God and truly man in one person could accomplish our redemption from sin. Our debt of sin is infinite because every sin is committed against an infinitely holy God. And yet only someone who is also truly a man could die in the place of men. It is only in the person of Jesus Christ that such a Savior is to be found! As the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:5,
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (ESV)
And so the manger of Christmas presupposes the cross of Good Friday. The purpose of the incarnation was that Jesus might die to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21) and rise from the dead on the third day for their justification (Romans 4:25).
Do you know the true joy of Christmas? It is only by faith in Jesus that the fear of judgment is replaced by the “great joy” of salvation from sin, and eternal life in Him.