Observing our surroundings in the final month of the year, it’s obviously Christmastime again. Feasting, festivities and fun abound. The annual Orchard Road Christmas light-up. Festive sales. Seasonal snack offerings that begin even from October. These are all good things to be enjoyed during the festive season.
Yet, what if we don’t feel the atmosphere for celebration? This Christmas, there will be some with loved ones in hospital, or who might be in hospital themselves. Within my social circles, it will be the first Christmas without a loved one for some. I’m also thinking of friends who will be spending yet another Christmas alone in a foreign country, half the world away from those they love.
Or we might be surrounded with loved ones, yet find ourselves discouraged – another year of unfulfilled New Year resolutions. Not only is there no improvement, we may have even bounced several steps back within the year. Still struggling with the same inadequacies year after year.
Thankfully, the joy of Christmas is not lost in the midst of these circumstantial happenings.
MORE THAN THE ABSENCE OF PAIN
There is more to Christmas joy than the absence of worldly pain – it marks the beginning of God’s plan to give us eternal life (John 17:3).
Christmas marks the remembrance of Jesus’ birth. Jesus – God’s only Son (John 3:16) – was God’s plan to put us in right relationship with Him. Jesus was born on earth as a man (John 3:17), in order that the world might be saved through him – as He bore the penalty of sin.
But what is sin, and why does it exist?
Sin, which is rebellion against God, came into the world when God’s people rebelled against Him. When God created Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, He warned them that if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would die (Genesis 2:17).
However, the serpent, whom Eve encountered, told her they would not die; instead, they would become like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5) – which led both Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6). In choosing to disregard God’s instructions, Adam and Eve had wilfully rebelled against God, which has resulted in dire consequences for all of creation.
Hence the curse of sin fell upon them – for the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) – which mankind has inherited (Genesis 3:17–19). This curse is an overarching one that encompasses all areas of life – as a consequence of Adam’s sin, creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth, even now (Romans 8:21).
The curse of sin that resulted from Adam’s rebellion accounts for all the brokenness we see in the world today, including illness and death.
When Adam sinned, the created world was also subjected to futility (Romans 8:20) – because Adam’s sin counts for all of mankind (Romans 5:12). As a result of Adam’s sin, all of mankind stands guilty before God (Romans 5:15, 19).
ETERNAL LIFE AND EVERLASTING JOY
But in and through Jesus, all that has been impacted by sin can be made new – God desires for us to be reconciled to Him as friends (Colossians 1:20), and has made this possible through Jesus’ death on the cross.
Because of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross, He has defeated all rebellion against God, whose wrath on sinful men is now satisfied – God can now forgive the sins of Man while maintaining His holiness. Therefore, those who believe in Him can come into His presence – as a result of Christ’s atoning sacrifice they have peace with God (Romans 5:1), and seen as holy and blameless in His sight (Colossians 1:22).
Hebrews 2:14-15 tells us that because of the sin of mankind, a human Saviour was needed to bear God’s wrath and turn it to favour – Christ had to become fully human in every respect in order to represent His people as their high priest before God. This is the heart of Christmas joy – the birth of the Saviour, who had come to restore relationships between God and Man.
Joy that exists in Jesus is an objective reality that is independent of circumstance and festivities – it is grounded in the good news of Christ’s work on the cross. The true joy of Christmas comes in knowing that by Jesus’ death on the cross, He took the eternity mankind deserves, to give us the eternity we need.
JOY IN JESUS: A GIFT RECEIVED WITH GRATITUDE
As we trust in Christ’s finished work on the cross, God gives us His joy, a gift granted by the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). This is a full and lasting joy (John 15:11; 17:13), of loving God and being loved by Him – a result of our restored relationship with Him.
In response, we receive this joy in praise and grateful thanks (Psalm 118:1-4).
If you haven’t received this everlasting joy, would you consider doing so this Christmas?
Here’s how you can accept Jesus Christ into your heart through a simple prayer of faith:
“Lord Jesus, for too long I’ve kept you out of my life. I know that I am a sinner and that I cannot save myself. No longer will I close the door when I hear you knocking. By faith I gratefully receive your gift of salvation. I am ready to trust you as my Lord and Saviour.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming to earth. I believe you are the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead on the third day. Thank you for bearing my sins and giving me the gift of eternal life. I believe your words are true. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, and be my Saviour. Amen.”