By now you have been inundated with all things Christmas. I say that, not in a negative way but in a very positive way. I know many of us shed tears during this time. How can you not?! The music alone causes a challenge to get through without your eyes watering just a little. Holidays are times when families get together. Sadness can come when one or more of those family members are no longer with us.

But, those tears are not always sad. There is a reason why we CELEBRATE Christmas. We remember the greatest birth ever – the birth of Jesus. How happy Mary and Joseph would have been at the arrival of this child! What joy we have in our hearts to sing “Joy to the World” or watch the children as they sing, “Away in a Manger.” A tear may fall, but a smile is also there.

Why is that smile there?

I would guess that as you read this, there are not just tears of joy which come from your eyes during Christmas. I would guess there are plenty tears of sadness. Yes, sadness as I mentioned earlier…loved ones who are no longer with us. But, is there other sadness remaining too? Peel apart the Christmas story, what do you see? Who did God send? He sent Jesus. Who is Jesus? He is the Savior of the world. Why was he a Savior? Because the world needed a Savior. Because I needed a Savior.

And, there is it. It is the cause of those tears of sadness. The tears of sadness from a passing of a loved one is the reminder why we needed the Savior so badly. Sin causes death. The Savior needed to come to kill sin and therefore kill death. Jesus, the Savior came because I need a Savior. I needed someone to kill my sin. I needed someone to destroy my future death.

Does the cross cast a shadow on that manger for you? Is that what causes you some sadness? Where can we go for help? We can turn to God for help. We turn to his word.

For this Christmas blog, that is what I want to do. I want us to turn to God’s word. I am sure you have heard most, if not all, the passages about Christmas: For to us a child is born. To us a son is given (Isaiah 9:6). In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree. (Luke 2). The list goes on and on.

But, for this Christmas message how about this passage from Luke 22:43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. Could this angel have been one who sang to the shepherds on that first Christmas morn? Was that not the passage you would have been thinking? Why this passage? And, why did Jesus need this strength? There was work to do yet. There was...the cross!

I already asked if the cross cast a shadow on the manger. This passage takes us to the moments right before that cross. Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane. No long a baby; no longer has 33 years of life ahead of him. He only has moments. He prays; he cries; he pleads; he obeys.

All this leaves him weak. Think about that. The Son of GOD needs strength. Don’t you think that Jesus can relate to all which happens to you?! He felt that weakness. He felt the need to be strengthened. Yes, his road was so much bumpier than ours. His involved a cross. But, he needed to be strengthen too.

God not only sends an angel to help Jesus and give him strength, but he sends angels to us too. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways (Psalm 91:11). Those same angels who were sent to help and give Jesus strength are the same kind of angels God sends to us.

But, not this time. Remember the sadness in your eyes which flow from your tears? Remember how so often those tears come from sin, from mistakes, from our moments of sinful weakness? Jesus wasn’t sinful, but we are. We give in. We sin. Sadness comes. Tears flow. You feel there are no more tears to cry. Help is needed. And, now heaven is no longer silent. Why? This time God doesn’t send an angel. Why not?

Because…he sent his son!

An angel wouldn’t do. Not this time. It had to be God. The very God who knows what it is like to feel weak. The very God who knows what it is like to shed tears. The very God who looks into your heart and sees the gift you so desperately needed – your sins removed! Your guilt taken! Your death destroyed!

How does he do all this? In Jesus. In our Promised Savior. In a babe born in Bethlehem.

Remember these words from earlier: What joy we have in our hearts to sing “Joy to the World” or watch the children as they sing, “Away in a Manger.” A tear may fall, but a smile is also there.

Why is that smile there?

Why can you have a smile? Because help is here. Jesus is here. Emmanuel, God with us, to help us. To save us!

Merry Christmas to you all!