O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining.
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
The lyrics of “O Holy Night” rip through me leaving me in awe of the glorious unveiling of God’s plan of redemption. The depth of beauty in this song is unmatched, and the revelation of Jesus as our long-awaited Savior is magnificently illustrated. But the one line that just slays me is, “Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.” Drink in the glory of those words. His appearing equals your worth! For a woman who once felt absolutely worthless, those nine words capture the heart of Christianity and proclaim the true meaning of Christmas.
The Soul Felt its Worth!
It’s easy to get lost in candy canes and mistletoe and fail to recognize Christmas for what it truly is: an invasion. That holiest of nights was heaven invading earth! Invasion? Yes, that’s what I said. I know this is not how Hollywood movies depict the season. The typical Hallmark/Lifetime/ABC Family/insert-your-favorite-afterschool Christmas movie features star-crossed lovers finally uniting or homeless puppies trekking their way back to family via planes, trains and automobiles. While these flicks make for fantastic post-shopping naps and are the mainstay of many cold winter evenings, I dare say they have zero to do with the actual meaning of Christmas.
Somehow Christmas has taken on a far different meaning than what it originally signified two thousand years ago when the angel announced to Mary that she would birth the long- awaited Deliverer who would rescue people from their sins. When I think of Christmas, I’m more likely to think of an epic military conquest than lost puppies. With Jesus’ arrival in Bethlehem, we have the birth of the One who would ultimately topple the domain of darkness by invading it head on and ushering in the Kingdom of God. His birth marked the dawning of our deliverance. One of my favorite scriptures about Jesus says it best:
He has rescued us from the domain of darkness
and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.
This is what I mean by invasion. Bursting through the doors of our sin and shame, He defeats our captor to set us free. Friends, the Christmas story is a rescue mission. Humanity was captive in slavery to sin and Satan, but God being good and glorious sent His Son to rescue us.
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine
Jesus’ birth sounded an alarm from day one. The invasion of the true King did not go unnoticed by the principalities of darkness. From the outset of his life, we learn that the spiritual forces of evil sought to destroy Him before He could finish His work.
In Matthew’s Gospel, we learn that Wise Men from the East came seeking the promised King in order to worship Him. His appearing moved their hearts to seek and exalt Him. Their pursuit of Jesus ignited a firestorm of jealousy and rage in a man named King Herod.
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?
We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
As a result of the Magi’s inquiry, King Herod, sensing a threat to His kingdom,
ordered all the babies under two years of age to be murdered.”
Don’t miss those words, “sensing a threat to his kingdom”…Herod ordered murder! There is no neutral ground where Christ is concerned. His appearing causes extreme reactions. A person will either worship Him or oppose Him. Those who recognize His invasion as a grace-filled rescue respond with worship. But those who desire to build their own kingdom and reject His saving work oppose Him in their hearts.
King Herod was of the second group. Herod wanted his own kingdom. He didn’t see the arrival of Jesus as a welcomed rescue; He viewed the arrival of Jesus as a threat to his power and position. King Herod was the first pawn of Satan’s resistance to God’s redemptive plan, but he would not be the last. As Jesus grew and began teaching about the Kingdom of God, Satan incited jealousy and hatred into the religious leaders of the day. Threatened by Jesus’ popularity and power, they too opposed Him and even had Him crucified.
The question before all of humanity is this: what will we do with King Jesus? Will we bow before Him like the Wise Men in adoration or oppose Him like King Herod? This season, let us recognize Christmas for what it truly is, a divine rescue mission by the One who said that we were worth dying for! As your soul feels its worth, I pray you fall on your knees and worship the One who moved heaven and earth to rescue you!
“Jesus is not just a king; he’s a king on a cross. If he were only a king on a throne, you’d submit to him just because you have to. But, he’s a king who went to the cross for you. Therefore, you can submit to him out of love and trust. When someone gave himself utterly for you, how can you not give yourself utterly to him?”
Marian Jordan Ellis, RGM Founder & President