The following is a lightly edited transcript.
Near the end of the Second World War, behind the enemy lines in Nazi Germany, there were prison camps, where American soldiers were kept. And in this one camp, they were not well fed and they were starving, thin, discouraged —wondering if they would ever go home again and see another Christmas. And the Nazi guards watched them behind the fences, with their downcast faces and their slumped over shoulders, scarcely speaking to each other.
But suddenly one morning, everything had changed it seemed. They were still behind the fences. They were still not well fed. They were still very sick. And the guards noticed that they were happy. They were smiling, they were talking, they were gathering in little huddles. Every now and then you could hear a hoot from somewhere. The guards had no idea what was going on.
“News has broken in, and it changes everything. It changes everything.”
A little transistor radio had been smuggled in, and the American POWs heard the news that the Allied forces had landed. They had triumphed. They were moving steadfastly inland, and it could be just days before their rescue, because liberation was happening.
The point of that little story is the power of news. Nothing had changed except news. News awakened hope.
Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be to all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
We are very much like those prisoners because, as you look around the world, horrific things come into our lives all the time, like a house that burns down or a husband who’s lost too early. Like the soldiers, you feel like the fences are still up and the food is not very good; you’re still in the camp.
And yet news has broken in, and it changes everything. It changes everything. In fact, the news of Christ as a Savior is better than the news of Allied troops for this reason: There were a few American soldiers in the barracks who were so sick and so emaciated, they knew they wouldn’t last until the liberation came. And so liberation for them, at the earthly level, meant nothing. It didn’t help.
That’s not true for us. Because unless Jesus comes back before we pass, we will die in the camp. And he came in order that our guilt might be taken away, and our sin might be covered, and a perfect righteousness might be provided. He gave himself to be eaten by the lion of death and the devil so that death’s belly he might poison that lion to death, and the lion would then regurgitate him on the third day. The lion dies and he’s alive, and he will raise us up from the dead with him.
So whether we live or whether we die, because of Christmas and Good Friday and Easter, we will live. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25). We have a great Savior. I pray that you know him and love him, and that when you sing a song like “O Come Let Us Adore Him,” your heart really does adore.
Let us adore him because of his absolute existence. Do you remember the exchange between Jesus and the Jews in John 8:57–58?
So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
Adore him for his absolute existence. Adore him for his infinite, omnipotent power. Through him all things were made. There’s not a galaxy in this universe that wasn’t made by Jesus Christ. Adore him for his absolute power. Adore him for his infinite knowledge. The Bible says that “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are in Christ Jesus (Colossians 2:3).
“His humility was chosen. He chose to be lowly. He chose to be a servant.”
Adore him for his humility. This has struck me this season. We’re not very humble. If you think you’re humble, you haven’t got there yet. But if any of us has made any progress at all, it’s because we’re finite, we’re fallible, and we’re sinful. And Jesus is none of those. His humility was chosen. He chose to be lowly. He chose to be a servant. He chose to be obedient unto death, that he might die in our place. Adore him for his humility. And adore him for his grace:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
And finally, let’s adore him for his present life and his promise to be with us to the end. You’re going to walk out of here in just a few minutes. If you know him as your Savior, if you embrace him this Christmas as your Lord and the treasure of your life, you will walk out with Jesus and he will never leave you.
He wants to minister to you tonight. And my guess is that some of you came in here off of a pretty crabby Christmas Eve. There have been some crabby moments at the Piper household in the last four hours. And I walked upstairs and just prayed, “God, please fix this. Please fix this. I want this to be a happy night.”
And I just thought, maybe you should do this as you walk out of here. I’m thinking primarily of husbands and wives here. If it’s a husband and wife thing, and there’s been some tension at home, why don’t you just try no words at all. As you walk out the door into the parking lot, just take each other’s hand. I will put the meaning on that for you: It doesn’t mean, “I was wrong,” and it doesn’t mean, “I was right.” It means, “I want it to be good and I love you, and God will figure out the right and wrong.”
May the Lord bless you. May he give you a very merry Christmas.