A monthly column by Michael Cassidy, evangelist, author, Christian leader and founder of African Enterprise whose ministry in Africa and the world has spanned more than 50 years.
A good many years ago, my wife and I visited Israel. We were staying just outside Bethlehem. As we looked from our room down towards Bethlehem it was hard really to take in that this was indeed the place where Jesus was born. There it was. It was no fictitious tale, no dream, no fanciful thought. Here was the place. And one could look out on it in the evening and say, ‘Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.’
But more important simply than the geographical location of the happening, was the significance of Bethlehem as the ‘City of David’. In other words, the angelic testimony was that this birth was taking place according to the prophetic promises of the Old Testament. This one who was coming into the world was indeed the long awaited messianic figure promised, prophesied and foreshadowed at many places throughout the many centuries of Old Testament history.
It is thus part of the glad tidings of great joy that God is in charge of history and is in sovereign control as He moves our planet towards its consummation in the Second Advent of our Lord. This indeed will take place, according to prophetic fulfilment, as surely as His First Coming happened and was announced in Bethlehem, in the City of David, long ago.
Who is this One coming into the world? The angelic word assures us: This is the Saviour and He is Christ the Lord. The angel was affirming two things. This one is the Lord. This is God come in the flesh.
When my daughter, Debbie, was a little girl, she once said to one of her friends: “God is Jesus’ surname”. And this is true! Said Jesus of Himself: All power in heaven and on earth is committed to me. To His disciples when they were confused about the identity of God the Father He claimed: He that has seen me has seen the Father.
No wonder John can say in the prologue to his Gospel: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God … and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
What this says is that Jesus is not just one in a long line of religious leaders, not one amidst a great pantheon of religious prophets, not one choice amidst a mass of religious options, but He is indeed the supreme authority in the universe.
So Christmas is either very much more than a sentimental story or it is very much less. Jesus is either the centre and hinge of history or the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the human race.
The angel said that He was not only the Lord, but the Saviour. In other words, He is the one who saves. He saves us from many things. He saves us from meaninglessness, from emptiness, from loneliness, from fear of death, from guilt, and above all from the separation which sin has brought between us and God. He is the Saviour from sin. Indeed, the angel said to Joseph: You will call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. All of us have fallen short of our own standards, not to mention God’s. Therefore, we need a Saviour.
All we have to do is to reach out and say: “Oh come to my heart Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for thee”.
So my prayer at this time is that we should all allow the good tidings of great joy to break into the lives of those around us. Each of us must personally respond to the Good News that this Christ has indeed come in history to be our Saviour, our Lord, our Friend and our Contemporary.
This is what Christmas is all about. These are the good tidings of great joy. Why not accept them this very Christmas Day into your life and have a truly happy Christmas? God bless you all.