Today is December 26th, the day after Christmas. On this episode, I thought I would share with you three theologians who love Christmas.
The first one we come across is Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He loved Christmas and gave many Christmas sermons. One of them was actually on Mary and the Advent. And here’s what he says:
“‘Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed!,’ sings Mary joyfully. What does it mean to call her blessed, Mary, this lowly maidservant? It can only mean that we worship in amazement the miracle that has been performed in her, that we see in her how God regards and raises up the lowly. . . . To call Mary blessed does not mean to build altars to her, but rather it means to worship with her the God who regards and chooses the lowly, who ‘has done great things for me,’ as Mary says.”
And remember, it was Mary who said, “holy is His name.” Bonhoeffer concludes, “To call Mary blessed means to know with her that God’s mercy is for those who fear Him from generation to generation.”
In that same sermon, Bonhoeffer goes on to ask a question. “What story is being enacted . . . when God comes into the world in a lowly manger?” Another way to put it is, “What is really happening here, at Christmas?” Bonhoeffer says, “The judgment and redemption of the world—this is what is happening here. For it is the Christ Child in the manger himself who will bring that judgment and redemption.” And that’s why Bonhoeffer loved Christmas, because it’s the story of redemption.
Another theologian who loved Christmas is our founder here at Ligonier Ministries, and we do miss him: R.C. Sproul. He loved Christmas! And one time he wrote this, “What we celebrate at Christmas is not so much the birth of a baby, as important as that is, but what’s so significant about the birth of that particular baby is that in this birth we have the incarnation of God Himself.” Dr. Sproul goes on to say that, “An incarnation means a coming in the flesh.” We know this from the prologue of John. And Dr. Sproul goes on to quote the prologue, and he reminds us that at the end of that prologue, John says this, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” R.C. continues, “Now in this ‘infleshment,’ if you will, of Christ appearing on the planet, it’s not that God suddenly changes through a metamorphosis into a man, so that divine nature sort of passes out of existence or comes into a new form of fleshiness. No, but the eternal second person of the Trinity takes upon Himself a human nature and joins His divine nature to that human nature for the purpose of redemption.”
Ultimately, R.C. loved Christmas because Christmas is the incarnation. Christ, the God-man, coming into this world for the purpose of redemption.
Well, another theologian or pastor who loved Christmas was Charles Haddon Spurgeon. And here is one of the many things that he had to say about Christmas. He says:
We have nearly arrived at the great merry-making season of the year. On Christmas-day, we shall find all the world in England enjoying themselves with all the good cheer which they can afford. Servants of God, you who have the largest share in the person of him who was born at Bethlehem, I invite you to the best of all Christmas fare – to nobler food than makes the table groan—bread from heaven, food for your spirit. Behold, how rich and how abundant are the provisions which God has made for the high festival which he would have his servants keep, not now and then, but all the days of their lives!
We love Christmas because this is the gift of Christ to us and the gift of our redemption. And we celebrate it on Christmas Day, we celebrate it the day after, and we celebrate it all the days of our lives.