Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays. With all the family, gifts, and food that is around this time of year, how could it not be? It is easy to forget the real reason for the season. We celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas day and as I have read over and over the birth of Christ, I always get a sense of renewal and hope. Let’s go through the story of the birth of the Messiah to celebrate this Christmas season.
We must first take in that there has been silence from God for nearly 400 years. No prophets, no visions, no voices, silence. It must have been very confusing to hear nothing from God for all that time. Then a child is born who breaks the silence of heaven. There are some shepherds in the fields watching over their flocks and they see something marvelous.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”” Luke 28-14
These shepherds are out in the fields, just like any other night. All of a sudden, an angel appears to them and the glory of God was shining around them and they were terrified. I would be too if we had heard nothing our whole lives and all of a sudden an angel and the glory of Yahweh appears in the middle of a field. Then the angel speaks and tells them that a Savior has been born and that he is the Messiah. This must have been very confusing to them. Not only that, but then a whole bunch of heavenly beings appear and they were praising God. How wonderful this must have been to see. A baby is born, the silence is broken, and the Messiah is here.
Perhaps they remembered the words of the prophets all those years ago about the Messiah. Perhaps they remembered that there was supposed to be a Messiah who would come and save them. A Savior, who would be God’s son to free everyone. This was the moment when the promises God made started coming true and many people, including these shepherds, were the first ones to know.
Another character named Simeon appears in this story. He was a righteous man, who had the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prompted him to go to the temple courts and there he saw Jesus. When he sees Jesus, Simeon says, “For my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:30). His eyes had finally seen the baby who would grow up to be the Savior and salvation for all people. He had laid his own eyes on God’s salvation, and he could now pass on in peace because of it.
Then there is Anna, the prophet. She was old and widowed and never left the temple. She saw the child and praised God in that moment and “spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). Anna knew who this was and she could not keep it to herself, she told all who would listen about Jesus and who he would become.
As you can see from all these characters, there is something to be learned about Christmas. The shepherds took action to go see this baby and then told everyone about him. Simeon now had complete peace because he had seen this baby. Anna also spoke about the baby to all who listened. This baby, Jesus, was more than just a child. He became our salvation. His birth broke the silence from God and his death and resurrection breaks our chains from death. This was not just the birth of a child, it was the birth of salvation and that is what we celebrate on Christmas.