Folk songs often describe important life experiences and events. Such songs are found in nations throughout the world and their style and content reflect some aspect of their culture. One American folk song comes to mind during this season of the year, “Go Tell it on the Mountain.” Its origin is unknown, but it possesses a catchy tune that allows it to be remembered easily. This particular song describes the thinking of a people that reflects a clear understanding of the meaning of Christmas. Though the lyrics are simple, their message relates the good news that ... “Down in a lowly manger, our humble Christ was born and God sent us salvation that blessed Christmas morn. Go Tell it on the Mountain, over the hills and everywhere, go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.”
These words reveal the Divine desire to reconcile man to God and offer mankind a righteousness that will enable any individual, regardless of their status in life or the degree of sin and failure experienced, a relationship with God through faith in Christ. Man’s real need is spiritual and success in life, regardless of station or position, cannot fulfill that need. That truth was seen in a ruler of the Jews named Nicodemus when he came to see Jesus because something was lacking in his soul though he had attained prominence in the religious system of Judaism. Jesus, knowing his real need said … “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3 NIV).
Jesus was not referring to physical birth, but to a birth from above, spiritual in nature, by which the spirit within mankind is made alive unto God through faith in the fact that Christ would die for our sins, be buried and rise again. Nicodemus failed to understand that his first birth was merely physical and not spiritual. He needed to be born again, from above. Jesus told this Pharisee of honorable reputation that faith directed toward the right object and not external works of religiosity gained relationship with God.
Thus Jesus brought to his thinking a well known illustration from the Old Testament of faith and its application to being born from above. “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15 NIV). Bitten by snakes while in the wilderness, the Exodus generation was told to look (an act of faith) at the pole lifted high above the camp and they would be healed. No doubt some said that was ridiculous and DIED. However, those who obeyed the instructions LIVED. Puzzled, yet desiring to know the Truth, this religious seeker said … “How can these things be” (John 3:9 NIV)?
The answer revealed by Jesus has rung throughout the ages and perhaps is the best known verse in Scripture. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV). Mankind had no solution for his lost spiritual condition. It required a Divine solution and thus those magnificent words … “for God so loved the world that He gave.” It was a world marked by sin, evil, rebellion, hatred and violence. Its occupants were under the control of their sin nature inherited from the fall of man in the Garden.
A day would come when the world would be purged of that curse, but until then anyone could be freed from the bondage of that sin nature. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him” (John 3:36 NIV). He is the reason for the season for the angel said to Joseph … “you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21b NIV).