It’s the time of year where people are shopping for presents for their family and friends, decorating their houses, preparing for Christmas. People have started listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies that have become family classics, and getting into that Christmas mood. Although it will be different for some families this Christmas because of the shooting in Newtown, it’s still a time for families to get together and have fun.
Even the movies A Christmas Story and Elf, both of which have classic Christmas movies, depicts today’s view of Christmas of presents, family time, and food. A Christmas Story shows Ralphie, the main character, as he tries, fails, and then ultimately succeeds, to get a BB gun. He fails at first is that his teacher, mother, and the Santa at the store are more convinced that “you’ll shoot your eye out” with the gun than they are about it being the ultimate Christmas present. The movie Elf shows Buddy, a human raised by elves, looking for his identity and his family. He spread Christmas cheer to everyone he touched–whether it was talking to them or by singing loud for all to hear.
But the reason why we started celebrating Christmas wasn’t because we wanted to spend time with our families or give presents to each other or read stories about Santa Claus. Although that’s fun and dandy to do that, it’s not what Christmas was about. The reason we celebrate Christmas is to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
The reason why his birth is so important is that He’s our Savior–he became human to suffer and die for us to save us from sin and death and bring us into eternal life. To become human, he had to have an almost human birth. Luke 1:25-35 and Mathew 1:18-23 depicts that Jesus’ birth was going to be different than not only because he was going to be (and is) the Son of God, but also born of a virgin. Both depict that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary. John 1:14 (NIV) states:
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
We’ve seen his glory and he’s full of grace and truth. The angels (mentioned in Luke 2:8-15), shepherds (mentioned in Luke 2:8-20) and the Magi (mentioned in Matthew 2:1-12, 16) made this clear at Jesus’ birth and worshiped Jesus, who John called the Word, because they knew he’s the Savior of the world. They knew Jesus came with grace and truth to set us free from sin. The Magi knew because they studied the Old Testament and followed the north star. The angels knew because they’re close to God and knew from him. The shepherds knew because the angels told them and the proof was Jesus in the manger.
Jesus’ birth is the reason behind Christmas–he’s what makes it special. It’s not the gift giving, the family time, the music, the movies, the mood, the decorations that makes Christmas special. Jesus’ birth is unlike everyone else’s in the world–past, present, and future. He’s the Son of God, born of a virgin, who also fulfilled prophecies listed in Old Testament passages at his birth alone. He had his birth this way as one way to show that he came to save us from our sins. As John 1:17 (NIV): “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
Jesus came as a baby with both grace and truth to save us. That’s what we celebrate at Christmas: the birth of the Savior of the world from the deadliest thing on earth, sin. He’s why we have Christmas with the nativity scenes and the Charlie Brown Christmas special as what they are. He’s why we celebrate Christmas, get together and give gifts. He’s why there’s Christmas music like “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing“, “Joy to the World“, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Little Drummer Boy“. Even when all the other things that go with Christmas change, he’ll always be the same and his birth will always be celebrated. He’s the meaning of Christmas.
As we celebrate Christmas, Jesus’ birth should be constantly in our minds. We understandably forget–or, at least, put in the back of our minds–that it’s Jesus’ birth is the meaning behind it. Most of us focus on the presents, Santa Claus, decorating, family, etc. and not much on what Christmas is all about. We should be celebrating him, not just focusing on everything else that needs to be done by Christmas. His birth needs to be present in our minds at Christmastime because of what it represents. His birth represents the coming of salvation, God’s great love for us, truth, joy, and hope.
So, when we’re celebrating Christmas, remember that Jesus came down as a baby to save us because he loves us so much. He brought salvation, truth, joy, and hope with him when he came. He’s the meaning of Christmas.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”