By Matthew Barrett–

 

My two little girls are excited about Christmas, very excited. Christmas is truly overwhelming for them. Grandma is coming into town, along with uncles and aunts. There are presents under the tree just waiting to be opened. Mom seems to be an endless source of baked goods. And Dad even cut down a real Christmas tree this year.

In the midst of all of this Christmas glee, each night I sit down with our daughters and we read a Bible story and memorize a passage of Scripture. Recently we have been enjoying the poetic prose of Sally Lloyd-Jones in Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing and Marty Machowski’s The Gospel Story Bible.

But at the end of the night as the girls are tucked into bed, there is one question that we return to again and again: Why did Christ come into the world? Contrary to what you might think, the answer to this question does not have a cheerful beginning. In the middle of a season of good cheer, there is bad news, very bad news: We are sinners and we are in desperate need of a Savior (Eph 2:1-3).

Sin does not bring a smile to the face. My girls sit there in silence. Occasionally my oldest even responds, “Dad, we sin and we do bad things.” Certainly to the world this sure puts a damper on the Christmas spirit. But as we sit there, looking at the picture in the story Bible, of Jesus wrapped tightly, laying in a manger, we know that just pages ahead this babe will be grown and he will be crucified on a cross for our sin.

The bad news has to come first. If not, the good news does not make much sense. Much like sitting in the doctor’s office, unless we understand the horror of our diagnosis, we will never appreciate the cure. Unfortunately, especially at Christmas time, we don’t want to hear the bad news. Sin is ugly. It exposes who we really are: rebels. Sin leaves us naked and ashamed, guilty and without hope. Our sin reminds us that we are enemies of God. Our sin reminds us that we stand condemned before a holy God in our idolatry (Rom 1:22-25; 3:9-20).

As I mentioned, my wife and I are memorizing a passage of Scripture with our daughters this year. Smart things that they are, they almost have it entirely memorized. The passage we are cherishing this Christmas is Luke 2:10-11, “And the angel said to them [the shepherds], ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the Earth. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

As these shepherds sat there in the field, the glory of God shone around them. The angel’s words were good news. A Savior is born this day. But why is this good news you ask? It is good news because we are sinners. Why did Christ come into this world? He came to save sinners. As the angel said to Joseph, “you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21).

Matthew Barrett (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University (OPS). He is also the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine. Barrett has contributed book reviews and articles to various academic journals, and he is the editor of Whomever He Wills: A Surprising Display of Sovereign Mercy, as well as the author of several other forthcoming books. He is married to Elizabeth and they have two daughters, Cassandra and Georgia.