Dr. Albert Mohler – Those Who Walk in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light: The Wonder of Christmas

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” [Isaiah 9:2] Those words from the prophet Isaiah told of the coming Prince of Peace, and of the light and life He would bring.

Christmas arrives again with all the promise of remembrance and celebration. Christians celebrate Christmas because the light did dawn. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was not only the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, but the dawn of a new age. As the angels declared to the shepherds, this infant is “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

This is the very essence of Christmas: The birth of the Savior. To understand Christmas is to know that the ultimate peace the Savior would bring would be established by His death and resurrection. Even as Jesus came to save His people from their sins, Christ’s birth points towards His cross and the fulfillment of His saving work.

When Isaiah told of the coming Prince of Peace, he spoke of light dispelling darkness. The metaphor of light is central to our celebration of Christmas. After all, even as John introduces his gospel by identifying Jesus as the Word who became flesh, John also describes Jesus as “the True Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.”

The image of light dispelling darkness is central to our understanding of the incarnation and its meaning. When Jesus was presented at the temple shortly after His birth, the aged Simeon recognized this child as “A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

The metaphor of light makes sense only against a background of darkness. In the Bible, darkness is a rich metaphor that points to a double reality. In one sense, darkness points to the simple fact of human ignorance. Those who are “in the dark” are those who lack knowledge. To the Jewish mind, this metaphor had particular application to the Gentile world–a world that had not received the grace of God through the revelation of the Torah, the prophets, and the written revelation of God. Even today, we know that untold millions still dwell in deep darkness, having never heard about the one true God or of Jesus Christ, His only Son.

In a second sense, darkness refers to evil and willful blindness. This points beyond the mere fact of simple ignorance. In this sense, darkness refers to the fact that many will reject the light. As John explained, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came into His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.”

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Tony Breeden – What’s So Dangerous About… Merry CHRISTmas

“Have a Happy Holiday,” I said.

I had purposely avoided saying Merry CHRISTmas because I’ve been told that I am somehow shoving my religion down everyone’s throat ever time I say Merry CHRISTmas. And far be it from me to play havoc with the mercurial beliefs of those weak-willed enough to convert based on a simple greeting.

Honestly, I had no idea that such a sentiment could be so powerful. Did YOU know that wishing someone a Merry CHRISTmas would force them to convert to my faith? Did you know that acknowledging the existence of an officially recognized national holiday celebrated by the majority of a democratic nation would officially set up a Christian Theocracy?? Did you know that the mere mention of CHRISTmas would have such an effect? I am assured it is so.

Now, IF there are really folks out there who are so weak-willed that my wishing them a simple Merry CHRISTmas will actually “force my religion” on them, then perhaps I could remedy the situation by also wishing them a Happy Independence Day! Would such a greeting as that, reserved for patriotic sentiment, somehow engender an independent thought to help them stand resolute against this pernicious assault of contrary sentiments?

Far be it from ol’ Sirius to force someone to covert to my faith by such a simple, yet pernicious means. Though, honestly, if I’d known people were such willy nilly weak-willed sheep, I wouldn’t have wasted my time with such tedious methods as knocking on doors, passing out tracts, debating, preaching, reasoning or what-have-you: I would’ve simply sent more CHRISTmas Cards.

What is it about this little phrase, Merry CHRISTmas, that makes some guys so rabidly Christophobic, I wonder? Wishing one a Merry CHRISTmas does not force you to believe in God, angels, the Immaculate Conception or wise men, any more than it mandates belief in elves, flying reindeer, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, potentially falsifiable fictional characters in general or Tim Allen’s acting ability. It may give you the irrational urge to listen to Christmas music, sing carols or watch Christmas movies like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life or Die Hard [my fave]. You may feel inclined to indulge in a drink of egg nog, a saccharine bit of candy cane or really show what a masochist you are and visit the relatives. The very mention of a Merry CHRISTmas greeting may even cause you to wish it would bloody snow already. But it will not force you to participate at all!

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Dr. Albert Mohler – “And Them That Mourn” — Celebrating Christmas in the Face of Grief and Death

Families across the Christian world are gathering for Christmas even now, with caravans of cars and planeloads of passengers headed to hearth and home. Christmas comes once again, filled with the joy, expectation, and sentiment of the season. It is a time for children, who fill homes with energy, excitement, and sheer joy. And it is a time for the aged, who cherish Christmas memories drawn from decades of Christmas celebrations. Even in an age of mobility, families do their best to gather as extended clans, drawn by the call of Christmas.

And yet, the sentiment and joy of the season is often accompanied by very different emotions and memories. At some point, every Christian home is invaded by the pressing memory of loved ones who can no longer gather — of empty chairs and empty arms, and aching hearts. For some, the grief is fresh, suffering the death of one who was so very present at the Christmas gathering last year, but is now among the saints resting in Christ. For others, it is the grief of a loss suffered long ago. We grieve the absence of parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and siblings. Some, with a grief almost too great to bear, suffer the heartbreak that comes with the death of a child.

For all of us, the knowledge of recent events of unspeakable horror and the murder of young children make us think of so many homes with such overwhelming grief.

Is Christmas also for those who grieve? Such a question would perplex those who experienced the events that night in humble Bethlehem and those who followed Christ throughout his earthly ministry. Christmas is especially for those who grieve.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Galatians, reminds us of the fact that we are born as slaves to sin. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” [Galatians 4:4] Out of darkness, came light. As the prophet Isaiah foretold, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who walk in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” [Isaiah 9:2]

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Philip Bell – True Versus False Humility: The Incarnation, Creation and Evolution

At this time of year, our attention is increasingly focused on the amazing fact of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus, God’s promised Messiah. My own thoughts often turn to the wonderful prophetic words of Isaiah about the birth of God’s Son, “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.” These tremendous truths, immortalized by Handel in his Messiah, should cause us to stand in awe of this Person who is so much greater and higher than we are.

The Humility of Christ

And yet, this same eternal Word of God, through whom the entirety of the Cosmos was made (John 1:3), left the perfections and glory of heaven and ‘took on flesh’ (John 1:14). And so it is that we are also faced with the amazing humility of the Son of God in his incarnation as a baby boy. His majesty hidden from view, Jesus grew up in very humble circumstances, was familiar with human struggles, suffering and grief, ultimately submitting to the torturous and shameful death of Roman crucifixion. Of course, all of this, though at the hands of sinful people, fulfilled God’s grand purpose of procuring forgiveness, reconciliation and salvation for anyone who would now approach Him in true repentance and faith. It’s no wonder that we read, “How shall we escape if we neglect (ignore) such a great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3).

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Tony Reinke – The Meaning of Christmas: Comparing Dickens and Handel

The past week has been full of memories for me and my family. On Sunday afternoon we traveled to the Navy Academy chapel in Annapolis to hear Handel’s Messiah performed. The chapel is stunning and the performance was beautiful. On Wednesday night we traveled to D.C. to Ford’s Theater to see a performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Ford’s is very small and intimate and the play was incredibly well acted. The empty president’s box elevated above the stage is a reminder that lends further eeriness to Dickens’ haunted intentions.

Both experiences will live long in my memory.

But while I was sitting in Ford’s theater I was struck by the contrasting Christmas messages between Dickens and Handel.

I’ll begin with Dickens.

Dickens

For Dickens, Christmas is about getting unshackled from materialism to appreciate all the blessed relationships we’ve been given. That’s a very good message. And in my attempt to further discover Dickens’ understanding of the meaning of Christmas, I was led to his short book, The Life of Our Lord. He wrote it not primarily to be published but to be read by his children each Christmas, thus giving us a glimpse into the urgency of its annual, seasonal message. The book is Dickens’ retelling of Christ’s birth, life, death on the cross, and resurrection. And quite frankly, most of it is very good.

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