Here is the good news of Christmas: Jesus’ birth brings joy to all the people (Luke 2:10). God targets all for joy in the giving of a child to Mary and Joseph and through them to the world.
(NOTE: Reader’s Alert! This first Christmas gift disappoints all attempts to be politically correct.)
It is not enough for joy to flow to some. The messengers from Heaven were quite clear on this point: good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Nothing is said of the many who didn’t look for it or want it or who would likely refuse it. Nor is anything said of the few who may desire it and seek it above all else. No, joy-bringing good news goes to all, regardless who they are, where they are, or how they might respond. It is important to note here that not even the privileged insiders, not even those especially chosen to join with God in Lavish Giving, not even they are distinguished from all whose hearts are meant to be gladdened.
(I think only God is capable of maintaining focus on all, yearning with all that God is and has, for all to rejoice, without diminishing delight in and with those who hear and receive the good news that makes their day for the rest of their lives. I mean, how do we deal with this fact—that all are targeted and then rejoice, knowing that so many, in fact, the majority many, haven’t heard or understood and do not even know about the party to which they’ve been invited!)
There is joy for all precisely because the One born is Savior. To call him Savior is to identify him as the one who rescues us from the evil that threatens to ruin everything. The evil that causes the unspeakable horrors of genocide, serial murder, and sexual predators of all kinds; the evil that leads to some having so much they cannot even count it all, while some have scarcely ever known what it’s like to have enough of anything, at any time; the evil that seizes human attempts to relate to what transcends them—including those within our family of faith in Christ—and turns their concern and zeal into fuel for conflict, violence and death; and the evil that haunts and tantalizes human hearts with a sense that there must be, or at least should be, more than this but … what?
Most of us imagine ourselves beyond or even incapable of the worst of evils. We imagine ourselves the exceptions to others who succumb to little things that grow into something large and monstrous. We perhaps unwittingly think the best of ourselves and give ourselves the benefit of every doubt, judging ourselves by what we surely meant to think, feel, do or say, while thinking otherwise of those around us, or not anywhere near us, thinking that surely they knew better but simply failed to do better, judging them by how they appear rather than what they might have intended.
But along comes this child, gift of God’s lavish loving, pure and innocent, remarkable in every way, faultless in the manger and remaining so right up to his appearing before Jewish and Roman courts—along comes this child, guilty of no offense and yet offensive to everyone. Along comes this child who shows us that all the evil is of a piece, that what would kill a people-group is precisely what would kill a person’s reputation is precisely what would do whatever is done to slander, slur, slam and slay whomever. Along comes this child who defines evil in ways that lets none of us off the hook, maddeningly asserting that murderer and hater, adulterous and lustful, haters of friend and haters of enemy … all belong to the same people group, the group that needs desperately to be saved from the evil outside and inside the human person, family, people-group and nation.
Along comes Jesus to save us. The world and its people need to be saved from the evil. I know how that sounds—so simplistic, so last century, last era, so out of sync with the best we want to project, at least about ourselves or kind. But the none too politically correct, the absolutely non-kosher reality is this: the evil is real and the evil will be the end of us and everything, unless someone other than we our-ultimately- impotent-selves can save us. The good news is Someone has come who can and who does. Imagine a world where evil meets its doom, in whatever form it can take, wherever it can lodge, and whatever its intent—doomed in the wake of a Savior’s movement through history.
That a Savior has come who can rescue us, snatch us from the death grip of evil—as persons, as families, as a culture, a society, a nation, a world of nations, this will bring joy to all. That’s the good news claim!
Again, all are targeted for joy by this good news. Baby Jesus is the Savior of all, the liberator who sets us free from whatever evil lurks out there (the world) and in here (the human heart). The Savior is not simply my or your or anyone else’s personal Savior. He is, but he is more, and the extent of his saving work, along with its joy-bringing capacity, depends on the more that he is. What grips us for ill, what destroy us, what incapacitates us for all the good God intends for us, and what makes us miserable now and perhaps eternally—all of that requires a Savior who can deal with the whole of evil. And the deepest joys come to those who welcome Jesus as such a Savior and Jesus’ way as the path of freedom Jesus calls all people to walk.
Stay tuned …