It seems to me that every year the Christmas story becomes more and more diluted. Notwithstanding the Christmas parties and presents that continue to flow and excite; the dazzling lights and decorations which proliferate in our homes, public buildings, shops and streets; the sentimental movies that centre around the magic of Christmas which play daily during this period . . . but where is Jesus, the Son of God, in all this? I am not saying that it is no fun to enjoy Christmas get togethers, lovely presents, pretty lights and decorations, or indeed entertaining movies that extol the better sentiments of mankind. No, what I am saying is that Christ seems to have been banished from Christmas, so that ‘Xmas’ exists instead. How many people go to umpteen Christmas parties and wonder why these parties are named after the Son of God? Christmas has simply become yet another excuse for a festive knees-up for many in the modern world, and a great advertising tool for multi-dollar corporations to encourage people to spend, spend, and spend. Even within numerous so-called Christian institutions and churches, Christ-centred messages are no more. Instead, we have severely politicised sermons that conform to 21st century diktats which often take away from the Gospel.
Yet the Christmas story continues to have an intimate relevance to 21st century life – if we, in humility and faith, allow it. Faith comes from God, but we must want it too. He does not force Himself on us. Can we believe what Luke 2:9-12 says?
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
John 1:14 says ‘And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.’ Then in John 3:16, we read, ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.’ Shall we also believe the Bible on these promises?
The Christmas story is about God’s love for mankind. He loved us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His Son for our sakes, that we might be reconciled with Him. But first, we have to acknowledge that we are sinful beings, prone to choose wrong from right. We must believe that Jesus’ death on the cross and His subsequent miraculous resurrection are the events which have lifted us from the spiritual death of sin and reconciled us with God. Having believed thus, we give our lives to the Lord and, with His help, seek to honour Him in our lives.
Thus the Christmas story is one of salvation. It is the story of the Lord Jesus abandoning His heavenly home for a time in order to bring about oneness between God and mankind. It is the greatest story of love: ‘In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.’ (1 John 4:10) And so the Christmas story continues –
Search we the whole universe for love in its most glorious displays? It is to be found in the person and the cross of Christ. Does love exist between God and sinners? Here was the origin, not that we loved God, but that he freely loved us. His love could not be designed to be fruitless upon us, and when its proper end and issue are gained and produced, it may be said to be perfected. So faith is perfected by its works. Thus it will appear that God dwells in us by his new-creating Spirit.
For Christians, the sum of the whole is based on the perfect love of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Perhaps then as we celebrate Christmas, we should take some time out to think about why we do so. Have you ever wondered why there is a culture of giving presents at Christmastime? Christmas represents the fundamentals of giving. We have the gift of Jesus, the Son of God, who came to earth to live a life like ours – He was a baby, a toddler, a child, a teenager, an adult – so that He could truly empathise with us. It is an expression of the omnipotent God giving of Himself through His Son.
Christmas celebrates the beginning of Jesus’ ministry – the Lord God Himself who makes the ultimate sacrifice of His life’s blood because He loves us so much. It is about Jesus’ invitation to us to join Him in Heaven one day. All we need do is to believe that He is the Saviour, that He gave His life as an atonement for our sins; that His is risen and lives to intercede with the Father for us. We simply need to take Him at His word, and take Him up on His promise to love, guide, help and care for us throughout our earthly lives until we meet Him in heaven.
Salvation through Jesus is a FREE GIFT. ‘If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ (Romans 10:9) Jesus is the why and wherefore of Christmas. That is why Christians the world over celebrate Christmas.