In 1739, Charles Wesley wrote one of the greatest hymns for the celebration of Christmas. It was given the title, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” In the first stanza he gives us that famous line, “God and sinners reconciled.” In the third stanza, he continues to paint the gospel with words of poetry as he says that Jesus was “born that man no more may die.”
Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Indeed, Jesus was born that man no more may die! What a thought. Although Christmas is the celebration of Jesus birth (the advent of the King), we recognize His purpose in being born as we read the Bible. The third chapter of John’s gospel is perhaps the core of the New Testament gospel. It was the Reformer Martin Luther who said that John 3:16 is “The Gospel in miniature.” Jesus’ birth is good news. In Jesus’ death is God’s grace.
As I write this blog post, I’m sitting by the fire while my kiddos sleep on a bed we’ve constructed by the fireplace in the living room. This is a yearly tradition that marks the day our family moved into our house. However, I’m reminded of another anniversary that marks my calendar on December 23rd. It was six years ago today that I stood in front of my pawpaw’s casket in Alabama and preached his funeral service. He had held John Mark only weeks earlier for the first time. He would lose his battle to cancer on December 20th of 2008. I still miss him. I have his Bible in my office just within reach. I often remember the time we spent together. Death has blocked our relationship. Death has prevented him from knowing my two youngest children.
Many people face similar struggles at this time of the year. Some of you have memories of your grandfather, grandmother, husband, wife, or friend who is no longer with you this Christmas season. The table seems to have an empty chair. The family gathering is missing personality. The church pew has an extra spot. Their memories bring smiles of joy and tears of sadness.
As we celebrate Jesus’ birth this Christmas, let us all be reminded that Jesus Christ has defeated death (1 Corinthians 15). Jesus has overcome it. One day, Christ the King will return to rule and reign. He will vanquish the foe. He will bring peace to this sin cursed world with devils filled. He will bring unity to racial conflict. He will rule with a pure government that this world has been missing since the days of the Garden of Eden. He will restore relationships broken by the sudden separation of death. He will cause the lion to lie down with the lamb. He will bring healing to all disease. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes and death will be no more.
Revelation 21:1-4 (ESV):
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Jesus was born that man no more may die. In Jesus we have more than the hope of eternal life. We have His promise.