THE angel said to the shepherds, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” The very object for which He was born, and came into this world, was that He might deliver us from sin. What, then, was it that made us afraid? Were we not afraid of God, because we felt that we were lost through sin? Well, then, here is joy upon joy, for not only has the Lord come among us as a man, but He was made man in order that He might save man from that which separated him from God.
I feel as if the sorrow of my heart would flow forth in a flood of tears over the many sinners who have gone far away from God, and have been spending their lives riotously in various evil ways. I know they are afraid to come back; they think that the Lord will not receive them, and that there is no mercy for such sinners as they have been. But Jesus Christ has come to seek and to save that which was lost. If He does not save, He was born in vain, for the object of His birth was the salvation of sinners. If He shall not be a Savior, then His mission in coming to this earth has missed its end, for its design was that lost sinners might be saved.
Lost one, lost one, if there were news that an angel had come to save thee, there might be some good cheer in it; but there are better tidings still. God Himself has come; the Infinite, the Almighty, has stooped from the highest heaven that He may pick thee up, a poor undone and worthless worm. Is there not comfort for thee here? Does not the Incarnation of the Savior take away the horrible dread which hangs over men like a black pall?
The angel described the newborn Savior as “Christ.” There is His manhood, for it was as man that He was anointed. But the angel also rightly called Him “Christ the Lord.” There is His Godhead. This is the solid truth upon which we plant our foot. Jesus of Nazareth is “very God of very God.” He who was born in Bethlehem’s manger is now, :and always was, “over all, God blessed forever.”
There is no Gospel at all if Christ be not God. It is no news to me to tell me that a great prophet is born. There have been great prophets before; but the world has never been redeemed from evil by mere testimony to the truth, and it never will be. But tell me that God is born, that God Himself has espoused our nature, and taken it into union with Himself, then the bells of my heart ring merry peals, for now may I come to God since God has come to me.
God has sent an Ambassador who inspires no fear. Not with helmet and coat of mail, not with sword or spear, does Heaven’s Herald approach us; but the white flag is held in the hand of a Child, in the hand of One chosen out of the people, in the hand of One who died, in the hand of One who, though He reigns in glory, wears the nail prints still.
O man, God comes to you in the form of one like yourself! Do not be afraid to draw near to the gentle Jesus. Do not imagine that you need to be prepared for an audience with Him, or that you must have the intercession of a saint, or the intervention of priest or minister. Anyone could have come to the Babe in Bethlehem. The horned oxen, methinks, ate of the hay on which He slept, and feared not. It is the terror of the Godhead which, oftentimes, keeps the sinner away from reconciliation; but see how the Godhead is graciously concealed in that little Babe, who needed to be wrapped in swaddling bands like any other newborn child. Who feareth to approach Him? Yet is the Godhead there.
My soul, when thou canst not, for very amazement, stand on the sea of glass mingled with fire, when the Divine glory is like a consuming fire to thy spirit, and the sacred majesty of Heaven is altogether overpowering to thee, then come thou to this Babe, and say, “Yet God is here, and here can I meet Him in the person of His dear Son, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Oh, what bliss there is in the Incarnation of Christ as we remember that therein God’s omnipotence cometh down to man’s feebleness, and infinite majesty stoops to man’s infirmity!
The shepherds were not to find this Babe wrapped in Tyrian purple, nor swathed in choicest fabrics fetched from afar. “No crown bedecks His forehead fair, No pearl, nor gem, nor silk is there. ” Nor would they discover Him in the marble halls of princes, nor guarded by praetorian legionaries, nor attended by vassal sovereigns; but they would find Him the babe of a peasant woman, of princely lineage, it is true, but of a family whose stock was dry and forgotten in Israel. The Holy Child was reputed to be the son of a carpenter. If you looked on the humble father and mother, and at the poor bed they had made up, where aforetime oxen had come to feed, you would say, “This is condescension indeed.”
O ye poor, be glad, for Jesus is born in poverty, and cradled in a manger! O ye sons of toil, rejoice, for the Savior is born of a lowly virgin, and a carpenter is His foster father! O ye people, oftentimes despised and downtrodden, the Prince of the democracy is born, One chosen out of the people is exalted to the throne! O ye who call yourselves the aristocracy, behold the Prince of the kings of the earth, whose lineage is Divine, and yet there is no room for Him in the inn! Behold, O men, the Son of God, who is bone of your bone, and flesh of your flesh; who, in His after life, was intimate with all your griefs, hungered as ye hunger, was weary as ye are weary, and wore humble garments like your own; yea, suffered worse poverty than you do, for He was without a place whereon to lay His head!
Let the heavens and the earth be glad, since God hath so fully, so truly come down to man.
Jesus is the Friend of the poor, the sinful, and the unworthy. You, poor ones, need not fear to come unto Him; for He was born in a stable, and cradled in a manger. You have not worse accommodation than He had; you are not poorer than He was. Come and welcome to the poor man’s Prince, to the peasant’s Savior. Stay not back through fear of your unfitness; the shepherds came to Him in all their dishabille. I read not that they tarried to put on their best garments; but, in the clothes in which they wrapped themselves that cold midnight, they hastened, just as they were, to the young Child’s presence. God looks not at garments, but at hearts; and accepts men when they come to Him with willing spirits, whether they be rich or poor.