Has anyone ever come to you with the question, "What do you want first? The good news or the bad news?" Me? I choose to hear the bad news first, thinking that when I hear the good, it will take the sting out of the bad.
Around 700 B.C., the prophet Isaiah couldn't wait to share good news.
Characteristically, people ran from Isaiah, because if he didn't have bad news, he'd have no news at all. In sharp contrast to warning words of coming judgment and doom, the prophet had news that when it came to pass, would change the course of history forever.
"A child has been born for us.
We have been given a son
who will be our ruler.
His names will be
and Mighty God,
and Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6 CEV
Fast forward about 700 years. In Bethlehem Ephrathah, small among the clans of Judah, in the fullness of time, wrapped in cloths and placed in a manger, the child, the son, the ruler, the One of whom the prophets spoke, was come into our world.
That's the good news.
"He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him."
John 1: 10-11
That, my friend, is the bad news.
I don't know if reading those words had any effect on you, but they never fail to take my breath away, no matter how many times I've read them. To me, they are the saddest words in all of holy Scripture.
The long awaited, the One to whom every small letter and stroke of pen pointed, the vision of every prophet's dream and sound of voice, the light, the life, came into the world flesh, tabernacled among men, and they neither recognized nor received Him.
Fast forward again. A little over two thousand years.
Do we recognize Christ in Christmas?
Do we recognize Him at all?
Do we recognize Him in every rising and setting of the sun? Hear Him in a child's laughter? Smell His fragrance on a newborn baby's skin? Behold Him in the strength of a widow, wife of 50 years, her first Christmas without?
Do we recognize Him in a drop of rain that yields yellow and pink and purple springs? Do we see Him in the snowflake, uniquely different from every other? Do we bow to the Giver when we see breath in cold winter air?
Does the bell peal for Him? Do the carols sing of Him?
He is the face of hunger, the parch of thirst. He is the stranger and the naked. He is the sick. He is the lonely. He is the imprisoned.
Do you recognize Him?
Are you even looking?
Bows and boxes. Malls and madness. Debt and delirium.
Do we know it's Christmas time at all?
He is in the world. A world that doesn't recognize Him.
That which is His own, doesn't receive Him.
Bad news for certain.
"Behold, I am coming soon."
(Revelation 22: 7, 12, 20)
Then, Kyrios, the name above every name, will fell every knee to the ground, in heaven, on earth and under the earth. Every tongue will confess that Jesus, the Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
That is Good News!