The Great Commission According to ‘A Christmas Carol’

A Christmas classic illustrates the truth of the gospel and the motivation for missions.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a famous Christmas story centered around Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge.

In the story, Scrooge is portrayed as a mean businessman who is selfish, greedy, and detests niceness or generosity. The story is set around Christmastime, but Scrooge hates everything about Christmas. He hates how everyone is loving and kind to one another, how they are generous towards others, and how everyone is just so happy. He despises this time of the year.

On the night before Christmas, Scrooge is visited by his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who was greedy just like Scrooge. Because of his greed, he has been cursed to wander earth weighed down with heavy chains and money boxes. Marley tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts of Christmas during the night. These ghosts represent the past, present, and future life of Scrooge. Marley warns Scrooge to listen to these ghosts, or he will receive the same fate and curse that he received because of his selfishness and pride.

During the night, Mr. Scrooge is visited by all three of these ghosts, who reveal that if he does not change his ways, he will die lonely and hated. On Christmas morning, Scrooge wakes up a changed man. He transforms from a man known for being mean, selfish, and greedy to a man who is loving, selfless, and generous. He goes from hating Christmas to being thankful that he has a new opportunity to be part of the Christmastime feelings of love, kindness, and generosity.

You might be asking at this point: how does this story connect to the Great Commission? I’m glad you asked.

The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (ESV). Like Scrooge, we were all born dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), selfish and greedy. We all identify with Scrooge. Daniel Blackaby states, “Whether we accept it or not, we are Scrooge in this story.”[1] This is the bad news of the gospel. But there is good news. Just as Scrooge is shown the truth of his life by the three ghosts, and the destruction to which his current life will lead, the Bible reveals the truth about our lives and the destruction to which our sinful nature leads. The Bible reveals the truth and the good news of the gospel. God did not leave us in our sins and trespasses, but sent his Son Jesus to come and die on the cross and rise from the grave so that we can be saved, forgiven, and reconciled to him.

Even though we are Scrooge in this story, like Scrooge, our story does not end here. Scrooge’s life was changed. He was given a new life. Likewise, the Bible reveals that through the gospel, our lives are changed. We are given a new life and a second chance: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

This is the good news of the gospel: we have a new life. We have a second chance. We are transferred from death to life (John 5:24).

But now watch this. In the story, the moment Scrooge is changed, he not only begins to love Christmastime, but he cannot wait to go and spread the Christmas cheer with others. Scrooge exclaims, “I will honour in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the past, the present, and the future. The spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”[2] Scrooge’s heart has been so changed, and he is so full of joy and happiness, that he vows to live out this new change and to spread this good news and experience with others.

This is what the good news of the gospel should do to us. We should be so overjoyed by the gospel of Jesus Christ that our lives look different, and we should have a desire and passion to go spread the good news of the gospel to those who have yet to hear. Think about the woman at the well in John 4. The moment she experienced Jesus, she dropped everything, ran into her village, and told all the people to come and see this man Jesus who changed her life. The gospel should cause us to drop everything and run to the world to tell them about Jesus. If Jesus is so good, shouldn’t we want others to know and experience him?

Think about this: there are billons of Mr. Scrooges all over the world who are dead in their sins and trespasses, living a life that is leading them to death and destruction, and they do not even know it. Like the three spirits who visited Scrooge, we should desire to go to them and reveal the truth so they can know not only the gospel, but the only One who can save them, change their life, and give them eternal life in Jesus Christ.

We must go to them so they do not miss their chance to know and experience Jesus.

“What’s today, my fine fellow? Said Scrooge. Today! replied the boy. Why it’s Christmas Day. It’s Christmas Day! Said Scrooge to himself. I haven’t missed it.”[3]

As Daniel Blackaby reminds us, “What makes A Christmas Carol so heartwarming is not that Scrooge is redeemed but that he still has time to share his newfound Christmas Spirit and bless those around him.”[4]

This Christmas season, let us not only be reminded of the good news of the gospel, but let us remember the billions of people in the world who have yet to hear the name of Jesus and the good news of the gospel. Let us have the passion and desire to do whatever we can to take the gospel message to them.

[1] Daniel Blackaby, “The Gospel According to A Christmas Carol,” The Collision (December 7, 2020).

[2] Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (London: 1843), chapter 5.  

[3] Ibid.

[4] Blackaby, “The Gospel According to A Christmas Carol.”

Patrick Sawyer

Patrick Sawyer serves as the missional living pastor at Valleydale Church in Birmingham, Ala. Patrick holds an M.Div. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His passion is to encourage and equip Christians to live on mission daily where they live, work, and play. He has been married to Dawn since 2004 and has one son, Connor.