Joy. Peace. Hope. Love. These are the words we most associate with Christmas and for good reason, the birth of Christ ushers in all of these good things. Joy abounds in this season, especially on the faces of little children. The angel brought “good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10). And he declared “peace on earth” (v. 14) to the stunned shepherds. Many a war has called for a “Christmas cease-fire” so that there might be peace, at least for a moment. The birth of Christ is the promise of the hope of God for all men everywhere. And Jesus is the embodiment of perfect, holy love. Those who believe and receive Him are filled with holy love for God, Christ and the world. These are perfect words for the Christmas season. But one word gets forgotten during this holy time of the year.
Mary’s song – called The Magnificat – is a beautiful and moving oration inspired by the Holy Spirit in the heart of a humble girl. Mary’s song doesn’t focus on joy or peace or hope or love. Mary sings of the mercy of God. She says “His mercy extends to those who fear Him” (Luke 1:50). Mercy is as much a part of the Christmas story as the “big four.”
God’s mercy and His love are intertwined in Scripture. Mercy is the active evidence of His love. God doesn’t just love you and I from afar, His love prompted Him to act in mercy. Love touched the heart of God, mercy built the bridge. Love saw the suffering of humanity, mercy came down to help. Love couldn’t bear to be without us, so mercy went to the cross. And that is where the Christmas story truly becomes a love story. Because Christmas, with all its joy and celebration, is meaningless without the cross.