Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year as it is for so many. There are many reasons why it is such a special time and it means different things to different people. To some it is a time to enjoy time with loved ones and family, with many traveling great distances to be together. To others it is a time of unusual displays of kindness between people as seen in parties, gift exchanges, toy drives, and special acts of generosity. To a growing minority, it is a time to reflect on the original meaning of Christmas with the birth of the Christ child almost 2,000 years ago.
All across the world, people will gather together in worship services commemorating that most impactful time in human history. They will celebrate the immaculate conception, miraculous birth and the arrival of the Messiah that had been prophesied for hundreds of years prior. Multiple generations had waited for hundreds of years to receive the one of whom Isaiah had prophesied 700 years earlier in Isaiah 53 and 54. He was the promised one who gave hope to the defeated and enslaved Jews in Babylonian captivity. He is the same one who continues to give hope to those who feel defeated and enslaved today.
There is no other birth more celebrated throughout history and to the uttermost corners of the world. What is so significant about this birth? Why does it provoke such warm feelings and acts of goodwill even amongst those who don’t count themselves amongst the believers? In modern times as the commercialization of Christmas has reached dizzying heights, how much has been lost in the simple message and understanding of this great event?
The great miracle of Christmas is the fact that God himself, in the form of His son, left heaven and all of its majesty, became a man, lived a perfect life, suffering hardship, rejection and misunderstanding, and gave His life for everyone who has or ever will live. He defeated death, hell and sin, and returned to heaven to His heavenly throne. Even many amongst the believers don’t know that Jesus existed in eternity past as a co-creator of creation. John chapter one talks of “the Word was God … the world was made through Him … the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. This is the same Jesus of whom John the Baptist said, “After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.”
The simple truth is that little baby in the manger was much more than a sweet, innocent new born baby birthed by a middle eastern teenaged woman. He was the Creator of the universe Himself, who came to rescue lost humanity from the hopelessness, helplessness and chaos in which it found itself. The world wasn’t worthy of Him in the least, but that is where the matchless beauty of the Creator is most greatly exhibited. He showed the universe how selfless, powerful, loving, compassionate, and wise He was through this mysterious and wonderful act.
As we celebrate this Christmas season may we understand as never before how great God is and how much He loves all mankind. He loves us so much that He lived, suffered, and died so that we could live abundant and eternal life free from the slavery of hopelessness and helplessness that sin brings. 2 Corinthians 5:21 sums it up: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” I like to look at it this way, He became like us so that we could be empowered to be like Him! That’s what Christmas is really all about!
Let’s enjoy to the fullest our precious time with family and loved ones, eating delicious meals, resting from our labors, celebrating each other. Let’s enjoy extravagant generosity towards those we love and those less fortunate than ourselves. Let’s maintain in the forefront of our thoughts what this season is all about and as we do that may we be more and more like that One. Let’s continue this past this season into the new year until it becomes who we are. The world will be a better place because of it, that’s what Jesus always wanted in the first place.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!