The Gospel of Christmas (1/4)
In a recent sermon for the Christmas season, based on the genealogy of Jesus found in Matthew chapter 1, Tim Keller made a number of helpful and instructive points about the “gospel of Christmas” that deserve to be shared. Here, and in the next few posts, I’ll touch on Keller’s points, and add some elaboration of my own.
Point 1: Christmas is about good news, not good advice
Notice how Matthew’s account of his gospel starts, “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah…” This is truly radical. In contrast to the stuff of mythology and folklore, the story of Christmas claims to be rooted in real, space-time history. It doesn’t start with, “Once upon a time.” Tales that open in such a fashion to be stories that inspire us to be better people, to do great things. There is always some moralistic kernel aimed at stirring us up to “be better.” Now, compare this to the story of Christmas. How does it inspire us? It’s about a poor family, and a child born in a dirty stable. What does this story inspire us to be? What does it inspire us to do? I don’t have an answer to that.
This is because it not about instructing us to “be better.” It’s an announcement. It’s good news, not good advice. Matthew’s proclaims the faithfulness of God despite the unfaithfulness of humanity. It’s not a warm and fuzzy, world-affirming story about general “good will toward men.” Christmas challenges us at the deepest level. We’ve so drifted from God’s design, so lost is sin, that God had to come down to earth himself to address the problem.
Christmas also highlights the over-the-top, prodigal love of God toward rebels that deserve no mercy. Christmas speaks of God’s commitment to His fallen creation, and His original design to fill the earth with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea.
Christmas is about God getting his hands dirty.