What is Christmas? It would seem that to some it is the opportunity to give and receive the latest and greatest gifts. Who wants to give something out of style that will never be used? Who wants to receive Nehru jackets, bell bottom slacks, Jade East cologne, G.I. Joe action figures, a “Chatty Cathy” doll, a Hi-Fi Stereo record player, an Atari 2600 game system or an Apple IIe computer? (Some of those items date from fifty or more years ago!)
What is Christmas? It is a holiday whose true message is out of fashion with the world. God, however, determines what is eternally in fashion. Let’s consider somethings that are out of fashion with the world, but in fashion with God.
Some are blessed above others (1:42). We read evidence of God’s choice in action. Mary was chosen from among all women to be the mother of the Messiah. To be a father begetting children or a mother bearing children is to receive a reward from God (Psalm 127:3). How much greater honor to be selected by the Most High to bear his dearly loved Son! Elizabeth heard the message of the Savior’s coming when millions lived in full ignorance of the joyful news. Mary told the humble wife of a Jewish priest while the wives of kings and emperors remained in pagan darkness.
Christmas is a time to remember the teaching of the free and sovereign grace of God. Many do not know what grace means. But these women knew. Was Mary somehow better than all other women? No, the angel Gabriel first greeted her with words of grace (1:28). Mary herself confessed her need for a Savior and her humble nature (1:46-48). Elizabeth humbly rejoiced that she was favored even with a visit from the mother of her Lord.
There is not a person reading this, nor the writer, who even deserves to hear the message that a Savior has been born. Yet God has favored us above many who live and die without hearing the good news of Jesus Christ! It ought to bring us to our knees in humble thankfulness. Perhaps God has even done more for you, sending you not only the message, but also the regenerating Spirit of God that you may believe and be saved. Are you forever grateful?
The child of Mary is the Lord of all (1:43). People naturally resist acknowledging the greatness of Mary’s Son. Mankind in rebellion against the Lord and his Christ wants no part of calling him “Lord” (John 1:11; cf. Psalm 2:2. However, the Holy Spirit emphasizes in this account that Jesus is Lord — both God himself and eternal King (1:17, 32-33, 35, 43, 76; 2:11, 26). Others err in a different way. They rejoice in a Queen instead of a King. Observe carefully that Elizabeth did not say (nor does any other Scripture) that her Lady came to visit her, but that the mother of her Lord came to visit her. Christmas reminds us that the Lord of Glory, the Most High God, came to live among us in human flesh. “the mother of my Lord.” God should be honored for his willingness to give (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 8:9). The main point for sinners is that One has come who is mighty to save from the guilt and pollution of sin. The Son of Mary is the Lord our righteousness.
The Lord can fulfill a believer’s expectations (1:45). The worldly wise person does not believe that there is any reason for the believer’s joy. At best, they think that we are self-deceived. In the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis described the Narnia Lucy first entered as a land in which it was always winter, but never Christmas. That is what the ungodly think of the Christian’s hope — it’s winter, but Christmas never comes. But when the Lion, Aslan, arrived in Narnia, Christmas came and then spring. To the unbeliever, faith in God is a waste of time. All is measured by what oneself thinks is possible. As their philosophers say, “Man is the measure of all things.” They also feel that we are foolish for believing in, what they think of as, sand castles. “Have your dreams,” they say, “but they will all be washed away.”
The follower of Christ has a different perspective. We would agree with the unbeliever’s “sand castles” view, if our hope was in humanity. We understand, even better than they, that to trust in mankind, in what people can do, or even in faith in faith is a foundation for lasting despair. However, our hope is not in mankind, but in the living God! “For nothing is impossible with God” (1:37).
When Elizabeth finished her song, both Mary and herself had months of waiting for their sons to be born. But God fulfilled his word. How are we showing confidence in God? Now is an excellent time to turn to the living God in humble faith and to trust in the Savior. He welcomes all who call out to him (Romans 10:13).
Grace and peace, David