Sometimes, especially during the Christmas season, I vacillate between feelings of anger and those of utter amazement. Astounded that God in Christ would submit to being so small and innocent and enter this world born as a baby. And then the world, in the end, would reject Him, even kill Him after treating Him brutally.
While I am keenly aware that I’m no better—or more holy—than any of those people 2,000 years ago who judged Jesus and effectively wrote Him off to die, it still makes me angry that my Lord had to endure that for you and for me.
In an article entitled “Christmas for Adults,” Dr. Richard Pratt Jr. asks the question: “How can any reasonable adult be merry at Christmas” given the myriad of “disappointments, challenges, and threats that surround us.” Pratt goes on to remind us that, at the time of Jesus’ birth, the people were sorely oppressed, and moral corruption ran rampant in Israel (consider all the underhandedness evident in how the religious leaders plotted to kill Jesus). He notes also that the faithful were often ostracized, mocked and even threatened by violence and persecution. Pratt then says—quite correctly—“Sound familiar? The world Christ was born into was very much like our own.”
So, yes, while things in our fallen world may be dark in our view, at least at times, there is much for which believers should be full of joy and hope at Christmas (and every day). Jesus’ birth and death/resurrection allows Him to bring the great gift of salvation, the essence of the gospel or Good News. And the title of “Savior” given to Jesus connotes that He saves us from sin and death for sure. But Dr. Pratt would like us to be aware of something else. He notes some subtleties present in the words used by the angels to herald Jesus’ birth that first Christmas—“good news” and “savior “ are singled out by Pratt for further consideration. He notes that Good News often is used in scripture (see II Samuel 18:31, and II Kings 7:9 for example) to proclaim victory in battle. He further points out that the term Savior, used in passages such as Zephaniah 3:17, signifies a warrior who delivers his people from harm. This idea is further seen in verses like II Samuel 22:3 where God is called a shield, horn, stronghold, refuge, who saves us from violence. All are terms relating to strength, warrior terms. And it’s hard to ignore passages such as Rev 6:2 that describes Christ as being seated on a white horse, armed with a bow and “he went out conquering, and to conquer.” That sounds like a great warrior to me. And Savior in Hebrew connotes the ideas of rescuer, defender, avenger, ability to bring safety and to get victory.
While things in this world are far from what God originally intended, as believers we should set aside in faith all those concerns about the world around us and rejoice with the angels that Christ has come: “…born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” [Luke 2:11] Christ won’t return as a small babe “with no crib for a bed.” He will return at the head of the armies of heaven and His victory is certain. For now we can join with the shepherds in “…glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen….” [Luke 2:20] But take heart: our God is a Warrior-King!