Andy’s View of John Lewis

8 Dec

It’s starting to become something of a Christmas tradition, the John Lewis advert and inevitable tears that follow…for some. In fact, as we get ready for our welsh language Christmas service on the evening of the 11th, the preacher has asked me to download the advert for him to kick things off. 

However a college friend of mine, Andy Cole, has doen some serious thinking about the message(s) behind big JL’s latest offering:

The new John Lewis Christmas advert cost over £5 million to make and has been viewed on YouTube over 3 million times. Radio and newspaper reports have described it as the best Christmas advert of all time. If the reports are to be believed, the nation has been weeping in front of their TV screens at this 90 second tale of Christmas waiting.

The advert shows a cute seven year old boy desperately counting down the days and hours to Christmas morning. In the background a melancholy song is playing with the chorus “Please, please, please let me get what I want/Lord knows it would be the first time”.

What we are meant to think is that the little boy is simply waiting to see if he’s going to get what he really wants for Christmas. Before long we see him excitedly jump up on Christmas morning only to rush past the presents at the end of his bed.  Instead he turns up in Mum and Dad’s bedroom with a gift-wrapped present for them! The message? It’s better to give than receive. 

But is that really what the advert is saying and is it true? If you look beyond the warm fuzzy feelings what the advertisers are really saying is that spending money (at John Lewis stores!) will make Christmas special.

The reason they paid £5million quid for the advert is because they want us to believe that buying gifts from their shops will somehow give us what we’re all waiting and longing for. But will it?

Deep down we know that’s not true. Spending money at Christmas may give us a nice feeling for a little while but it won’t last. After counting down the days to Christmas many who cried sentimental tears at that TV advert will still be longing for something better to come.

The good news this Christmas is that something better has already come. The waiting is overbecause Jesus has come into the world. He’s what we need. Around 2000 years ago a godly old man named Simeon, who had been waiting all his life finally found what he was looking for (Luke 2:27-32):

27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus…28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32 a light, for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”

Simeon held Jesus in his arms and for the first time in his life he was completely at peace. He was able to joyfully contemplate his own death not because he was too old or sick to enjoy life anymore but because he’d seen Jesus.

The John Lewis advert is only half true. There is a sense in which it is better to give than receive. When you are in a position to generously help others that is a good thing to do (Acts 20:35 – work hard to help the weak).

But the Bible says true blessing begins not with giving but with receiving. If we want to know the contentment and peace that Simeon knew, then like him we need to receive the greatest gift of all from God – his precious Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.


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