Over this Christmas, I present to you from the first couple of chapters of the book of Luke of maximizing the meaning of Christmas by missionizing the mystery of Christmas, maximizing the meaning by missionizing the mystery. Christmas is a mystery, that God became man.
A.W. Tozer used to say that the distance between the highest angel and the lowest ant is smaller than the distance between the highest angel and God, because the distance between the highest angel and the lowest ant is finite. Both are created beings. But the distance between the highest angel and God– it is infinite.
God became man in a credible way so that you and I can see the way into His own heaven for eternal life for salvation. Missionizing Christmas means it’s not just keeping it to ourselves. It is for the sake of the whole world.
In our first carol, we looked at Luke 1, where the angel says to Mary, “Hail, you favored one, Ave Maria.” I’m going to introduce a second Latinized title of a song, a carol, a beautiful song that all of us have sung in both acappella and accompanied in descant and as loud as you possibly could. It’s called “Gloria in excelsis Deo.”
That comes from the second chapter of the book of Luke, where the angels break the monotony of a winter night and show up to the shepherds, who are guarding, watching over the flocks. And they say, “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth, peace, goodwill toward men,” as an earlier version of the English language translates it.
“Glory to God in the highest.” The whole Christmas story is about God. It starts with God. It ends with God. So God must get the glory. “Glory to God in the highest.” Remember, in the last talk– you may want to check it out. We talked about the Son of the Most High.
The Highest One– there are many junior gods whom people claim and worship. There are many secondary gods that people bow down to and sacrifice their lives to serve them. But there is only one most high God. Glory to that God in the highest everywhere, across everything that the James Webb spectre has sent to this Earth, that the Hubble Telescope sent to the Earth. In the most minute situations, we now come on on Earth.
When I used to visit Delhi, a friend of mine used to chauffeur me around the city. That itself is a spiritual exercise because about 15 kinds of transportation are going around at the same time. It’s dynamic, it’s fun, and to a great surprise, there are not many accidents.
In his own wonderful way, he told the story of how he became a believer in the Lord Jesus from a pre-Christ background. Then I say, why did you become a believer in Jesus? And he had a simple explanation, which he uses to share with his family and friends and neighbors. He says, you know, there are other festivities in the world which are localized and only celebrated by its adherents.
But when it comes to Christmas, all over the world, they celebrate it, whether they are Christians are not, which he says shows that Christmas is for everybody. And on Earth, the whole Earth, wherever you are, your location does not determine your salvation. And now the possibilities are even more that you can communicate your salvation to the whole world, as we’re doing right now, on Earth.
Now, this last phrase, “and on Earth, peace, goodwill toward men,” was how an early English version translated it, but that’s not the appropriate translation. The better translation– and translation is extremely important. If the translator gets it wrong, then the meaning becomes wrong for those who hear it.
I am told that an auntie, who gave her nephew a Christmas gift, was disappointed that the nephew was not happy with her Christmas gift. And so she said to him, I asked you whether you want large checks or small checks– large checks or small checks. And the nephew said, but you gave me a necktie. I didn’t know you were talking about a necktie with checks, large checks or small checks. Translation is very important.
This is how the phrase will be translated. And on Earth, God’s favor rests on those with whom He is well pleased– His favor on those with whom He is well pleased, which means that we ought to get right with God, and we cannot find the pleasure of God by our own manipulations, by our own negotiations. God has to give us that kind of favor.
But notice it’s for the whole Earth. What a significant statement. It’s not for some remote group, for some historical group. It is for you now. And if it is for me now. I’ve got to get it out to as many people as possible. So there will be glory to God in the highest this Christmas, and on Earth, His favor on people with whom He is well pleased.
The only way God can be well pleased with people is if people come to God on His terms. The way they come to God is through the Lord Jesus. After all, Christmas is about Him. If we don’t recognize that, we’ll have an amateur Christmas that is inept and incompetent. We’ll have a premature Christmas, which is unborn and not in fruition. We’ll have an immature Christmas, which is foolish and childish with all the magic around it, but the meaning will be lost. To maximize the meaning, we’ve got to missionize the mystery, what God did.
Some time ago, a young lady in our city, 13 years old, was accidentally shot by a family member with a 9-millimeter pistol– rushed to the hospital. The mother was distraught. We were trying to save the baby. At that point, a doctor came in and asked, I need some time with you. It’s urgent, but the decision has to be quick because a 16-year-old has just come in, and the 16-year-old can use little Charita’s heart.
Betsy, the mother, was distraught and in a distress– said, you can use my baby’s heart. This little girl’s heart gave salvation to the older boy’s life. And on Earth, peace– the whole world is crying for peace.
I was with one of the famous doctors of a particular discipline. I said, what you’re looking for? He said, peace. I was in the laboratory of one of the greatest color-developing systems in the world, and its executive said, I want peace. I was with the world-famous wrestler, big guy– said, what would you like out of life? A winner of all, but he said, I still wanted peace.
You know what happened when Jesus came? It was peace on men and women with whom God is well pleased. God’s peace through Jesus brings us surplus. Today, we can maximize the meaning of Christmas by missionizing the mystery of Christmas to deliver peace, the peace of the Peace Giver, to the whole world.