“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (John 16:20, esv).
What are the top five songs of Christmas? Take a wild guess. (Warning: you may start humming to yourself.) Check out this popular ranking:
“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”
No “Away in a Manger”? No “Silent Night”? No “Joy to the World”? Many Christians react defensively: They left out Jesus! There is a war on Christmas!
Relax. Don’t be surprised. Jesus predicted this: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (John 16:20). In other words, don’t expect the world to react to Jesus the same way you do. In fact, expect the opposite. In this context, Jesus spoke of His disciples’ reaction to His death (deep sorrow) vs. the world’s (gloating joy).
The world’s view of Christ’s death is vindication; the Christian’s view of Christ’s death is awful payment and punishment for sin and our only hope. The word sorrow here doesn’t mean merely sad or discouraged; rather, it’s the soul pain we associate with profound loss. Jesus told His disciples that the very sorrow they would feel would be transformed into joy. That is just awesome!
The world rejoiced when Jesus was crucified. Today, the world rejoices because Jesus is marginalized at Christmas.
Why should we act surprised? Why should Christians start foaming at the mouth because of a so-called war on Christmas? Jesus predicted this.
Christians love Jesus; no one else gets it. Welcome to reality! This is not a majority religion. We are on a narrow road (Matthew 7:13–14). We are the few who, by the grace of God, have come to faith in Jesus Christ. It’s not a popular thing. The only ground we hold is the name of the holiday, “Christmas,” and the Christmas story itself. All other Christmas real estate—from Christmas trees to sparkling lights to sending cards—isn’t historically rooted in Christianity and isn’t central to our faith.
Stop fighting for Christmas! There is nothing to fight for. The followers of Jesus are celebrating, and the rest don’t get it. Why is there a war over something? We don’t own anything. And we have to stop trying to make earth heaven! This is not our home (Hebrews 13:14). If we allow ourselves to get whipped into a frenzy against our culture, then we lose our joy. If we know who Jesus is and what He has done for us and why He came, then why would we expect that those who don’t get it would celebrate the same way we do?
We have every reason to celebrate. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Those of us who, by the grace of God, get what this really means should be overflowing with joy. Jesus reassured us, “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). This Christmas, rejoice! Let no one take your joy from you. You have every reason to rejoice.
Father God, You love us so much that You sent Your only Son to us. This Christmas, let me not lose sight of my Savior, Jesus. Forgive me for getting distracted by other things; teach me to focus on the main thing. The gospel is so pure and so simple: Jesus in my place. Please fill me with joy and love so that others will be drawn to You through me. In the name of Jesus, my Savior and Lord, amen.