When many people think of Christmas time, they think of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” TV special.
One of the best parts in the show is when an exasperated Charlie Brown shouts “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
Linus calmly replies, “Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.”
Then Linus recites a part of the Biblical book of Luke 2.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’”
But maybe we have heard the story so much that the joy of the message gets lost. We’re so far removed. Most of us have never seen an angel and, after all, the phrase “good news,” can lose its meaning when we can just as easily apply it to a sale at the grocery store.
In his book “King’s Cross,” Timothy Keller explains that the word the angel used in the original Greek had a much heavier meaning.
“‘Euangelion’ in Greek, which is translated as ‘good news’ or ‘gospel’ combines ‘angelos,’ the word for one announcing news, and the prefix ‘eu-‘, which means ‘joyful.’ ‘Gospel’ means ‘news that brings joy.’ This word had currency … A gospel was news of some event that changed things in a meaningful way. It could be an ascension to the throne, or it could be a victory. When Greece was invaded by Persia and the Greeks won the great battles of Marathon and Solnus, they sent heralds (or evangelists) who proclaimed the good news to the cities: “We have fought for you, we have won, and now you’re no longer slaves; you’re free.”
As Linus says, that’s what Christmas is all about. God had come to Earth to fight for us, and He was going to win. We would no longer be slaves; we would be free.