The Christmas season is upon us, and with it, the vast library of Christmas carols and hymns. Some of us have just taken the annual plunge into our Christmas music—others got a head start several weeks ago.
But as the holiday season stretches on, those treasured hymns and carols fade into the background, serving as little more than a soundtrack to our shopping, eating, and other holiday routines. The familiarity of those songs breeds a kind of indifference, as we mindlessly hum our way through verses and choruses about the incarnation of Christ and the salvation He alone delivers.
In his sermon “The Greatest Child Ever Born,” John MacArthur draws our attention back where it belongs during this frequently overwrought season. Extolling the uniqueness of Christ in His incarnation, John looks at the detailed description the angel Gabriel delivered to Mary regarding the character and nature of the Child she would bear (Luke 1:26-35).
John’s point in the sermon is clear: We must see Christ for who He is if we are going to truly celebrate His birth. He was not just a baby in a manger—He was and is the Lord of all creation, and the only hope for the redemption of sinners.
I can stand back and admire God in human flesh. I can stand back and admire the perfect man Jesus. I can stand back and admire the sinless, Holy One. I can admire Him for His sovereign kingship. But the only way I can ever know Him is if He will forgive my sins. And He came to do just that.
“The Greatest Child Ever Born” was delivered during the week of Christmas in 1998, and it seems that John MacArthur understood some in the congregation that day were likely not believers. His frequent references to well-known Christmas hymns and carols help to drive home the familiar but vital truths about the Person and work of Christ.
Christ came to the world, 1 Timothy 1:15, to save sinners. Luke 19:10, Jesus said, “I’m come to seek and to save that which is lost.” He is the Savior and that meant He had to go to the cross and provide a ransom for sin. He had to be our substitute and die on a cross in our place so that God, having been satisfied that our sins were paid for, could then give us forgiveness. It never would have been enough if He had just come as the God-Man, the sinless sovereign, if He didn’t die and rise again. And that’s why the Christmas carols make so much of that, “Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born,” they say. Every year we sing to you, “In David’s town this day is born of David’s line the Savior who is Christ the Lord.” We sing, “Joy to the world, the Savior reigns,” “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled,” “Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth,” “Then let us all with one accord sing praises to the heavenly Lord who hath made heaven and earth of naught and with His blood mankind hath bought.” Another carol says, “The King of kings salvation brings.” We remember these words, “Good Christian men rejoice with heart and soul and voice, now ye need not fear the grave, Christ was born to save, Christ was born to save, Christ was born to save.” “Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day to save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.” . . .
There’s a reason these songs last. There’s a reason they’ve been around generation after generation after generation, and that is because they accurately reflect the truth of the Christmas story. This is not something new. This isn’t something modern. This isn’t something we recently invented. This is the age-old truth that flows so clearly out of the Scripture.
We all need to work to keep our focus on Christ, especially at this time of year that is ostensibly devoted to the birth of the Lord. “The Greatest Child Ever Born” will help you fix your eyes on Christ and help guard you from distraction in the days ahead.
It’s also a tremendous resource to put in the hands of unbelieving friends and family, to acquaint them with the Child they hear so much about at this time of year.