The Christmas story—the overflowing inn, the manger, the shepherds—would be just another historic tale if it weren’t for the message of the gospel it embodies. The gospel is a reality that is an actual event in history, a birth, life, death, and resurrection that occurred in real space and real time. But it is also a present reality that rescues us from bondage to sin, brings hope, and continues to strengthen believers every day of their lives.
Without the gospel, Christmas is just another day off work, time with family, or excuse to party. Without the gospel, Christmas leaves us unfulfilled, empty, searching for the next thing to satisfy. Without the gospel, Christmas means nothing.
The gospel is ‘good news,’ but good news that begins with the stark reality of our identity as fallen, rebels at enmity with the God we were created to adore. Nor is this merely a collective identity—it eats away at the core of who each one of us are. We are unrighteous, without understanding, and with no desire to seek after God (Rom. 3:11). Nothing we do is good, for our very best actions are tainted by sin (Rom. 3:12). In short, “all of our righteousness is as filthy rags,” there is nothing we can do to repair our broken relationship with our Creator, and our state of rebellion against a holy God merits nothing but his eternal wrath (Rom. 6:23).
But God stepped in. Before time began, he planned to send his Son into the world—God made flesh—to live a perfect life, die in our place, and rise again, promising us new life. He took our sin upon Himself, taking all the wrath of God poured upon him for our sin and crediting us with his perfect righteousness.
No longer do we have to endeavor to work our way to please God, for the effort is impossible. Every religion of the world boils down to man creating systems to make himself right with God, but the gospel is the direct opposite. Instead of man reaching out toward God through prayers, church attendance, pilgrimages, penance, and a host of religiosity, the gospel declares that man is dead in sin and doesn’t even want to know the true God. But by God’s grace, his Spirit chooses to work in our hearts, awakening in us the ability to look to Christ’s finished work on the cross through faith, repent of our sin, and fully trust in what He has done.
This message—the gospel—is profound enough to spend a lifetime pondering but simple enough for a child to grasp. It’s a reality that in an instance rebirths the sinner into a new person, a child of God with a new heart and new desires. But it also gives hope, strength, and transformation every day of our lives.
This Christmas, embrace the gospel. Whether for the first time or for the thousandth, its beauty will never grow old, its balm never less applicable.
I’d encourage you to take a few minutes to watch this powerful reminder of the gospel’s effects: