First Person: Desire of every nation

Justin Wainscott

Did you know that there are more than 380,000 babies born each day worldwide, and that there are more than 10,000 babies born per day in the United States alone? That’s a lot of babies…and a lot of birthdays. So, what is it that makes the birth of a child in a Bethlehem stable so significant that it is celebrated around the world thousands of years after the fact? What is it that makes Christmas not just a national holiday but a global event?

One reason, of course, is that Jesus was no ordinary child. He was the incarnate Word – the immortal, invisible God taking on flesh and stepping into space and time. What other child has been (or ever will be) born of a virgin? What other birth has been (or ever will be) proclaimed by multitudes of angels? There is obviously something unique about this Child, making His birth worthy of universal celebration.

But the primary reason Christmas is celebrated around the globe is because the good news of Jesus’ birth (as well as His death and resurrection) is meant for the whole world. He was born as the Savior of all people, not just the Jews. That’s why the angels tell the shepherds on the night of His birth: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

That’s why so many of our sacred Christmas carols emphasize the truth that Jesus came for all the nations, for all the world, for every tribe and tongue. Just consider the brief sampling below:

Joy to the world! The Lord is come…

Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of ev’ry nation,
Joy of ev’ry longing heart…

Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic hosts proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

This is the impetus for the missionary zeal of Christianity. We take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth because He is the hope of all the earth. We spread the good news about who He is and what He’s done to all the nations because He is the desire of every nation. We invite all people to rejoice at Christmas because Jesus’ birth brings a great joy that is intended for all the people.

In other words, the scope of the Great Commission task to make disciples of every nation is hinted at and foreshadowed at Jesus’ birth, because even there it is recognized that the news of His arrival is cause for rejoicing by people everywhere. And that’s why we sing, “Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere; go, tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born!”

So let the good news of Jesus Christ ring out with joy this Christmas and let us go and tell that news to every nation, tribe, and tongue. Moreover, let this reminder be one more motivation for us to give generously and sacrificially to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering®so that missionaries can be sent and supported as they go and tell this good news “over the hills and everywhere.”