Christmas and Christian Mission

“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you’” (John 20:21).

We don’t often think of Christmas as connected to missions but it really is. Let me show you. First, “Christmas” is actually shorthand for “Christ’s mass.” The English word “Mass” comes from the Latin word missa,[1] which means to be “sent.” So, Christmas reminds us that Christ was sent.

He was sent to accomplish something. And His mission was not just to be a cute little baby. Jesus’ mission was to bring salvation. That’s actually how He got His name.

Matthew clearly spells it out for us: “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

The name Jesus is actually the Greek form of the name Joshua. And it means “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation.”

Friends, the bad news is we have not loved and listened to Yahweh, the one true God, as we should. But, the good news is, Yahweh saves. He saves in unexpected and amazing ways.

He saves by sending Jesus, the Promised One, to be born in a mere manger. He saves by sending Him to die the death we deserved to die.

So, Jesus was sent on a mission. He accomplished that mission. And we see that we now are sent on mission. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21).

We are sent on a different mission but in the same way that Jesus was sent we too are sent. We too must carry out the mission. Christians join Christ in the Missio Dei, the “mission of God.” We are not the good news, but we tell the good news.

Christmas—Christ’s mission—should remind us of our mission. Thankfully, it is not our mission alone. Jesus did not leave us alone to accomplish the mission. He Himself is with us to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). And He Himself sent the Holy Spirit to be with us as our Helper.[2]

[1] This Latin shows up in missions and in missionary.

[2] See John 20:22 and John 16:7-8.

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