You’ve probably seen reports this week of an amazing exchange between the United States and Cuba that was quite remarkable. According to USA TODAY, “What started out as a proposed prisoner swap between the United States and Cuba turned into a historic shift in relations, one devised during secret meetings abroad and resulting in the re-establishment of diplomatic relations after more than five decades. The two countries, separated by just 90 miles of water, once had the world on the brink of nuclear war, an episode that prompted 50 years of a U.S. economic embargo on the island and anti-American rage from Cuban President Fidel Castro. Now, the countries are preparing to open embassies in each other’s capitals and increase the flow of people and capital between them.”1
“The deal was finalized when two Americans returned home from Cuban prisons ... In exchange, three Cubans who had been convicted of espionage and other charges in the United States were sent home.”2
The announcement was broadcast simultaneously in Cuba and the United States as both President Obama and President Castro shared the news. It quickly became the lead story on news programs around the world as well as the headline story in both print and electronic media. It was an amazing and historic exchange.
The real message of Christmas is: You and I are no longer prisoners, held captive by sin and Satan.
But it wasn’t the exchange that rocked the world. That happened over 2,000 years ago, in a nondescript village in an out-of-the-way place, far away from the United States and Cuba. This time, missed by the masses and the media, an exchange took place that would literally and permanently change everything, forever. God sent His one and only Son, as a baby boy, born in Bethlehem. An angel told the shepherds, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of 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. And you will find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12).
The exchange involved Jesus, the sinless Son of God, and the largest group of prisoners in the whole world. In fact, it was the whole world and you and I are included in that group. The angel told Joseph, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). God gave His Son, Who knew no sin, to become sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The real message of Christmas is: You and I are no longer prisoners, held captive by sin and Satan. We’ve been set free thanks to a Divine Exchange, instituted by God and orchestrated by the Holy Spirit. All we have to do is accept the terms of the agreement: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
That, my friends is “good news of great joy!” And here’s the best part ...
... “it’s for all the people!”
© 2014. Barry L. Cameron
1 David Jackson and Alan Gomez, Tides turn after history of turbulence, USA TODAY, 18 Dec. 2014: 1A.
2 David Jackson and Alan Gomez, Tides turn after history of turbulence, USA TODAY, 18 Dec. 2014: 2A.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.