It is a Wonderful Time, But Please Remember the Real Focus
For many, the Christmas season is a special, almost magical, time. It’s exactly as countless people perennially sing in the old carol, “… the most wonderful time of the year.” Houses boast beautiful Christmas trees among a multitude of decorations, with a backdrop of white, fluffy snow falling outside their windows. Families traditionally sing carols together, while wrapping presents and baking delicious Christmas cookies. Kids (and parents, too!) enjoy reveling in tales of the characters associated with Christmas, such as Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman.
But somewhere along the way, many have forgotten, or even willfully abandoned, the real reason for Christmas: “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.” So reads the first verse of the second chapter of Luke’s Gospel in the Bible, and so begins the story of the first Christmas, the arrival of God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
At its true core, Christmas is the celebration of the coming of the promised Messiah from God. Jesus was “made flesh and dwelt among us,” as the Bible also says in John 1:14. So as Christmas arrives once again this year, make Jesus Christ a priority in your celebrations and, most importantly, in your entire life.
But what exactly happened on that first Christmas?
Well, like any great story, we have to go back to the beginning … in this case, the very beginning of the world. The Bible says in Genesis 1:1 that “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” At creation’s crescendo, after making the sun, the moon, the trees and plants, and animals, God spoke humans into existence, created in His image. Adam and Eve were the first man and woman, but they disobeyed God. Through that disobedience, sin entered into the world and separated Adam and Eve – and their offspring – from the Heavenly Father. But even as God pronounced judgment on man and nature, He also promised a coming Savior, a provision to pay the price for that sin and redeem mankind. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
Throughout ensuing history, God continued to remind people in many ways that a Redeemer would come. He spoke through prophets for thousands of years. These Old Testament preachers would ask people to turn back to God and to watch for the coming Messiah. The Bible says in Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
God even told man where the Messiah would be born and the very circumstances of His birth. The Bible says in Micah 5:2, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” And in Isaiah 7:14, the Bible says: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
There are hundreds of other prophecies throughout the Old Testament all pointing to the coming Redeemer, building to the very event. It was the centerpiece of all history, but it actually arrived with very little fanfare and celebration.
That day may have begun as any other day. A woman named Mary was working around her house. She was a young virgin anticipating her coming marriage to a young man named Joseph. But something much more special was about to happen to her. An angel visited her and gave her a message from God: “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.” (Luke 1:30-31) The angel also visited Joseph to give him God’s good news, too, that Mary was pregnant with the promised Messiah.
She was ready to give birth when that taxation decree we mentioned above came from Rome. The couple had to travel to Joseph’s hometown of Bethlehem to participate in this census. When they arrived, however, every inn throughout town was full. But one of the innkeepers allowed Joseph and Mary to stay in his stable with the animals. That night, the Bible says in Luke 2:6-7, “…the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
The Messiah came, but it wasn’t in a palace or a grand hotel. It was in a simple stable, in a trough full of hay for the sheep, goats, and cows. And while the angels celebrated in the skies over Bethlehem, humanity’s only other witnesses to the birth of the Savior were some simple shepherds who came and worshiped the promised Redeemer.
He Came to Die on the Cross
That baby, born long ago, was fully God and fully man, and He had one purpose in coming: To redeem all of mankind from our sins. You see, our sin has a price, and that price is death. It is not only physical death, but also spiritual death, which means separation from God for all of eternity. But Jesus Christ came to take our place in punishment as our substitute. He died on the cross to pay that price and rose again from the dead to give us victory over death. Think about it: God loved you so much that He sent His Son to die for you. The Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Jesus isn’t just a good man who only told people to love each other. He is the perfect Son of God, and he shed His blood and died for you. He provides everlasting life to anyone who trusts Him and asks Him in prayer to save them. That’s the Christmas story: The Son of God loved you so much that He came as a man to take your punishment for your sins and give you eternal life. That’s a reason for celebrating!
So as you celebrate this Christmas, with your tree, your Christmas cookies, your carols, and your presents, please don’t lose sight of the real “reason for the season”: Jesus Christ.
We wish everyone a very blessed and merry Christmas! The R.O.C.K. Club in Radford, VA, offers outstanding and compassionate Christian child care and tutoring. For more information, or to find out how you can have a real relationship with God through Jesus Christ, call us today at (540) 267-3000.