Christmas: A story of unparalleled love

Published 10:06 pm Saturday, December 24, 2011

By Ralph Richardson III

In the Gospel of John, we find the following words, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Ralph Richardson

The story of Christmas is about the deliberate choice of God that was made without an assignable cause except that which is uniquely a part of His nature, and His nature alone. It is the story of the infinite God, looking at the separation that existed between Him and humanity and seeing no way for man to return to his created status; taking the initiative to provide mankind with a way to return to the relationship we enjoyed with Him at creation. Finally, it is the story of God becoming a man in order to provide mankind with the redemption needed to restore our relationship at creation.

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In chapter 2 of the Gospel according to Luke, the unveiling of God’s unparalleled love is revealed to some shepherds in the land of Judea. While the shepherds were keeping watch over their flock of animals during the night, an angel from Heaven appeared to them with the following message: “I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (2:10b-11). After receiving a sign that would authenticate the message, the angel was joined by a multitude of heavenly hosts who praised God saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” (2:14).

The angel’s message given to the shepherds was affirmation of the faithfulness of God to His word. The Jewish people were the recipients of God’s word concerning His redemptive work for mankind. Now what had been told through the prophets of old has become a reality. The Anointed One of God has been born. Through the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, all people on the earth will be blessed. He is the Savior who was prophesied to come out of the house of David. As Savior, He will provide, for all people, the way of restoration to the relationship between God and mankind at creation.

Through Him, peace is possible in a relationship where there was once hostility. It is an offer that will not be forced upon man, but rather received by faith in the redemptive work of the Anointed One born this day.

While we are encouraged to enjoy some of the cultural traditions in our celebration of the birth of Jesus, we must never neglect to remember what necessitated His birth, namely the separation that existed between God and mankind, which resulted from man’s willful disobedience to the known will of God. It is His birth that is the culminating work of God’s redemptive work on man’s behalf.

It is my prayer that at the top of our gift giving will be the gift of Jesus, so that others might have the life that can only be had in Him. Remember, His birth was to restore a relationship, not start a religion.

Ralph Richardson III is the pastor of Little Grove Baptist Church on Old Townpoint Road.