Christmastime has been my favorite time
of year for as long as I can remember. It is a season of spending time with family and friends,
enjoying music, lights, decorations and good food, giving and receiving gifts and more.
In the preparation for and celebration of Christmas though we tend to get quite busy with all our
activities and so it's easy to loose sight of the real reason for the Christmas season as they say.
Christmas is celebrated in one way or another in many cultures.
Yet if you were to ask people today why we celebrate Christmas, some might rightly tell you
that it commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ but sadly fewer could explain the real
significance of that event.
The biblical story of Christmas that people are most familiar with is told in the New Testament gospels of
and Luke (1:1-2:40).
But Christmas is actually one event in a larger story that begins long before the birth of the baby Jesus.
So alongside of all the fun and busyness of the Christmas season this year, I'd like to take a few minutes
to share with you some thoughts about why Christmas is really so important.
When God created man (mankind) he was created perfect (in the sense of being pure before God
without the taint of sin) and as such was able to live with and commune freely in the presence
of God. But God knew that by man's own free will he would one day choose to disobey Him.
It wasn't long before man, when tempted to disobey God (sin), chose to do just that –
disobey even the most simple command of God and go his own way.
That familiar story is told in the Old Testament book of Genesis (2:7-3:24).
Because of that choice, sin entered the human race and we all bear the consequence of it
even to this day. That consequence is eternal separation from the presence of God.
… through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin,
and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.
Romans 5:12 NKJV
After that fall, on our own, we were forever lost (separated from God) because of sin and
could never hope to restore things back to how God had originally intended them to be.
Only God could do that. But because God is holy, He could not just look the other way
and ignore sin. Sin has a price.
Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood,
and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Hebrews 9:22 ESV
Now this is where the celebration of Christmas fits into the larger story.
Because of God's great love for mankind, He gave us a great gift.
God sent His Son Jesus, born as a man, to redeem (reclaim as His own)
anyone who would accept Him as Savior from the devastating effect of sin which
is eternal separation from God.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
John 3:16-17 ESV
The real significance of the Christmas story is this. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, left His original place with God the Father and was born as a man
Facing all the same trials and temptations as any of us, he grew up and lived a sinless life
(1 Peter 2:22;
At the end of His earthly life, in obediance to God the Father, then willingly offered Himself in death on a cross,
to be judged by God the Father as payment for the sin of all mankind
(2 Corinthians 5:21).
Think of it. The rightful, undiluted judgement of God for all our sin was poured out on Jesus – in our place.
And after having paid that aweful price, God raised Him from the dead (this is the Easter holiday story).
Christ's sacrifice – His free gift to anyone who will accept Him – once and for all, fulfilled the perfect law of God.
Now through simple faith in Jesus Christ we can choose to enter back into right relationship
with God. Jesus' sacrifice of Himself for us gives us the legal right to again live in the presence of our Holy God - right now and forever.
Still, every person must choose for themself whether or not to accept this free gift that Jesus offers to us all.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
John 1:12 ESV
God does not force anyone to accept Him. Instead we have all been created by God to have the ability to choose our own way or God's way.
Think of it like this. If it were humanly possible, would you prefer to have the love of a child or a spouse because you forced them to love you
or, rather, because they freely and of their own choosing offered their sincere, heartfelt love to you instead?
Both Heaven (Revelation 21:1–7)
and Hell (Revelation 20:10–15)
are realities. There is coming a day for each one of us when we will individually give an account of our lives to be judged by the Son of God
Those who have accepted God's free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, can rest assured that they are accepted by Him
and will not face the final judgement reserved for those who have ultimately rejected the Son of God.
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.
He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
John 5:24 ESV
All you have to do is call out to Him and ask. He's listening.
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.
For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
Romans 10:9–13 NKJV