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Friday, December 17, 2010

What’s the Big Deal About Christmas?

What’s the Big Deal About Christmas? 

What is the big deal about Christmas?  Why all the fuss?  What’s the real “meaning of the season,” as people like to say?  Is it all about being together with family and friends?  Being with family and friends is really nice, especially at Christmastime, but that’s not the meaning of Christmas or the reason we celebrate Christmas.  Is it about the weight challenged guy in the red suit?  Of course not, giving and getting gifts is fun and enjoyable, but it’s not the reason for celebrating at Christmastime.  How about peace?  Is Christmas about peace—peace between enemies, peace on earth?  No, that’s not the reason or the meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus. 

OK, so we get together and have fun as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, right?  Sure, it’s fun to go to a birthday party, but what’s so special about Jesus’ birth?  Yes, he was born dirt poor, in fact, he was born in a windy barn with all sorts of not-so-clean animals milling around in their stalls.  And Jesus was truly good.  But what’s with the worldwide celebration of Christmas?

Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus because his birth had been foretold for centuries and centuries.  In fact, it’s recorded in the book of Genesis that God promised Adam and Eve that He would send a Savior to save them from their sins.  And all throughout the Old Testament, many hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, details were prophesied about his coming.  He was to be of the lineage of King David, and indeed he was.

The big deal is that you and I and everyone who was ever born and ever will be born, are born as sinners.  If we are honest with ourselves we know that we sin multiple times each and every day of our lives.  In Psalm 51:5, David said, “I was a sinner when my mother conceived me.”  Yes, not only was David a sinner, but all the “heroes” of the Old and New Testaments were sinners.  Perhaps Solomon said it best, “Certainly, there is no one so righteous on earth that he always does what is good and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20)  And in the New Testament Paul says in Romans 3:23, “Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God’s glory.”  What a self-delusional fool I would be if I believed anything else.  How can I deny my sinfulness?  It’s self evident every day, and your sins should be to you too.

So how is God going to allow sinful men and women to enter His perfect heaven?  No matter how hard we try, we can’t earn it.  We can’t wash away or deny our sins.  And we can’t quit sinning.  So how can we possibly get into heaven?  For God to let us into heaven the way we are would make heaven no longer perfect.  What a dilemma!

So God devised a plan, a perfect plan, so that sinful humans could enter His perfect heaven.  It did not and does not involve punishing us for our sins, but rather punishing His son, Jesus, for our sins.  Imagine, God the Father loves us so much He sent His only son, Jesus, to live a perfect life, and then take our sins upon himself on the cross so that we can enter heaven.  What love!  What sacrifice!  And then he rose in triumph that first Easter Sunday as the first to rise from the grave.  It was a sign and a promise that all who believe in Jesus will rise also to be with him in heaven forever.

That’s the big deal of Christmas.  The coming of the Messiah was promised in great detail for centuries and centuries and finally he was born to Mary in a humble stall in Bethlehem.  What a great reason to celebrate!  What a great reason to rejoice!  What a great reason to sing with joy!  The long promised Savior of the world has come to save us from our sins.  Hallelujah!

It is the birth of Jesus, and only the birth, life and death of Jesus, that gives any meaning whatsoever to our lives.  There is nothing else. 

More than 500 years before Jesus was born the prophet Isaiah wrote these exciting words:

“A child will be born unto us.  A son will be given to us.  The government will rest on his shoulders.  He will be named:  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (9:6)

And of course the beautiful story of the birth of Jesus is told in the 2nd chapter of Luke —

1 At that time the Emperor Augustus ordered a census of the Roman Empire. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All the people went to register in the cities where their ancestors had lived. 4 So Joseph went from Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a Judean city called Bethlehem. Joseph, a descendant of King David, went to Bethlehem because David had been born there. 5 Joseph went there to register with Mary. She had been promised to him in marriage and was pregnant. 6 While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have her child. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there wasn't any room for them in the inn. 8 Shepherds were in the fields near Bethlehem. They were taking turns watching their flock during the night. 9 An angel from the Lord suddenly appeared to them. The glory of the Lord filled the area with light, and they were terrified. 10 The angel said to them, "Don't be afraid! I have good news for you, a message that will fill everyone with joy. 11 Today your Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in David's city. 12 This is how you will recognize him: You will find an infant wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger." 13 Suddenly, a large army of angels appeared with the angel. They were praising God by saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those who have his good will!" 15 The angels left them and went back to heaven. The shepherds said to each other, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about." 16 They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph with the baby, who was lying in a manger. 17 When they saw the child, they repeated what they had been told about him. 18 Everyone who heard the shepherds' story was amazed. 19 Mary treasured all these things in her heart and always thought about them. 20 As the shepherds returned to their flock, they glorified and praised God for everything they had seen and heard. Everything happened the way the angel had told them.

What a great story this is.  What an even greater event was the birth of Jesus as the long promised Savior of the world.  Hallelujah indeed.  Kathi and I wish you and your family a wonderful, joyous celebration of the birth of Jesus our Savior.

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