The international scene was tumultuous. Napoleon was sweeping through Austria; blood was flowing freely. Nobody then cared about babies. But the world was overlooking some terribly significant births.
For example, William Gladstone was born that year. He was destined to become one of England's finest statesmen. That same year, Alfred Tennyson was born to an obscure minister and his wife. The child would one day greatly affect the literary world in a marked manner.
On the American continent, Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And not far away in Boston, Edgar Allan Poe began his eventful, albeit tragic, life.
It was also in that same year that a physician named Darwin and his wife named their child Charles Robert. And that same year produced the cries of a newborn infant in a rugged log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky. The baby's name? Abraham Lincoln.
If there had been news broadcasts at that time, I'm certain these words would have been heard: "The destiny of the world is being shaped on an Austrian battlefield today." But history was actually being shaped in the cradles of England and America.
Similarly, everyone thought taxation was the big news - when Jesus was born. But a young Jewish woman cradled the biggest news of all: the birth of the Savior.
This Christmas season, the headlines are as full as ever. And, as always, most of the news is distressing enough. Racial strife is igniting in our cities; immigration crises are unfolding at our borders; terrorism, disease, and warfare are all exploding throughout our world, etc…
But praise God that is not the only news. There is also good news! And that good news is that God has clothed himself in human form and come into this world in the person of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, in order that He might give Himself as an atoning sacrifice on behalf of the men and women whom He has created in his image, but who have chosen to sin and turn against Him.
The Apostle John put it like this in the first few verses of the opening chapter of his New Testament Gospel:
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…
9The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Later, in the third chapter, in a passage containing what is perhaps the most well-known of all Bible verses (v,v. 16-21), John then summarizes the significance of all of this:
16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
Little wonder then that the birth of Jesus Christ is the single most significant occurrence in all of human history. For, as the Apostle Paul tells us (in the fifth chapter of his Second New Testament Letter to the Corinthians):
17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Don’t miss these great truths amidst the cacophony of voices and headlines competing for your attention this time of the year. For, my friends, the news about Jesus’ birth is not just good news. It is the best news ever given!