Christmas: Joy to a troubled world
The message of Christmas is joy to the world. This is the message as the world celebrates another Christmas. The first Christmas heralded the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. The stage was set in Bethlehem, a small town in Judea. The cast included Joseph, Mary, the shepherds and angels. Baby Jesus is the central theme of Christmas. The message of Christmas is that of joy and peace to men of goodwill. That was the heavenly message brought by the multitude of angels that appeared in heaven and overwhelmed the shepherds in the field.
The angel’s message was straight, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14. That was the message from heaven that marked the first Christmas. Any other issue, concern, expectation, desire or want that is not in tandem with this eternal message is not for Christmas. Any desire not geared towards giving God glory and in turn promoting peace and goodwill towards men on earth contradicts the spirit and purpose of Christmas.
Faced with turmoil around the world, many may lose faith in Christmas. The carnage going on in Iraq and Syria could make Christmas look like a “charade.” Charade means fake, sham, farce. But there can be no fake Christmas, no matter the situation in the world. The atrocities we see today are not new. Right from the days of Adam in the Garden of Eden, which God himself planted, humanity has witnessed bloodletting. Cain committed the most atrocious murder of his brother Abel right in the Garden. The Holy Scriptures are full of stories of wars that involved massacres. The desperation and wickedness of man, which manifest in all forms of atrocities, have existed many centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ.
The birth of Jesus took place at a time the Jewish nation was colonised by the Romans. Under that situation, there was mass discontent against the occupying Roman power. There were leftist agitators. The Zealots constituted one of those radical political movements that consistently incited people of Judea to rebel against the Roman authority and expel them from the Holy Land by force of arms.
The Maccabees were another group of Jewish rebel army that took control of Judea from the colonial Greek Seleucid Empire. The Maccabees established the Hasmonean dynasty by force and ruled from 164 to 63 BC. They reasserted the Jewish religion by forced conversion and expanded the boundaries of Judea by conquest.
If the Zealots and the Maccabees were in operation today, they would have been branded as “terrorists.” There has been no time from Adam that the world has had absolute peace. The greater part of human history is marked by indescribable turmoil, massacres, atrocities and bloodletting.
The atrocities in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere are part of the battle between good and evil, which began in heaven. “And war broke out in heaven.” Rev. 12:7. This war won’t end until Jesus comes back. While the war rages on, Christmas must be celebrated as epitome of peace and salvation.
The order by Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1), for a census of the entire world was not a friendly, peaceful order. It was political. History has it that Augustus Caesar was the founder of the Roman Empire and its first Emperor. As a military dictator, whose preoccupation was to expand the Roman Empire, the census was more of a political strategy to have accurate data of his subjects for purposes of taxation and military service. It was the same Roman authorities at the time that the Zealots fought against. There was no peace in the land when Christ was born.
That, notwithstanding, the angels brought a message of peace and joy. Paul, the Jewish lawyer, trained under Gamaliel, a member of the Sanhedrin, was explicit when he said, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35). Nothing, not even the terrorists’ bombs will separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.
The message of peace proclaimed by the angels presupposed conflict. Peace is the only valuable that can be given in a turbulent situation. When Jesus said “Peace, be still” to the raging waves at sea, his disciples were faced with danger. In a state of war, the only thing the warring parties seek is peace. The message of peace at Christmas is soothing. Christ is the Prince of Peace. Notwithstanding the turmoil around the world, Christ remains Christ. Christ’s coming is not predicated on human circumstances; instead, human circumstances are predicated on Christ. Christ’s coming introduced a new era in humanity’s history.
On that note, it is right to ask what your expectations at Christmas are. Are your expectations geared towards mundane things or focused on the message of Christmas? Many people have varied expectations at Christmas – some good some bad. Some are expecting gifts from loved ones. Some want to go for exotic shopping spree. Some want a new car. Some want to complete their house. The expectations are many and varied. For many, unless their expectations are met, there is no Christmas in their subconscious mind.
If your expectations fall short of the central theme of Christmas, which is joy, peace and goodwill, you should retract it and have the right spirit. Remember that Christmas has no end. As long as the earth exists, there will be Christmas. Nobody should kill him or herself because of this year’s Christmas. Mellow down; take life easy. What will be will be.
One of the main features of Christmas is mass movement of people from one place to another. There are international travels across continents, regions and countries. Over and above that are the domestic travels. In Nigeria, for instance, people travel from the west to the eastern states and then north to the southern states.
Many people appear to be in a hurry to reach their destination, meet certain goals/targets before the year ends. The event of Christmas, which comes just six days to the end of the year, accentuates this haste. After Christmas comes the New Year that opens a brand new world of opportunities. What are your plans for the New Year? The expectation is that the New Year will offer better prospects.