Source: Trevor Thomas
We must never forget that at this time of year, we celebrate much more than a birthday. As the great Christian apologist C.S. Lewis put it, Christmas is the story of how “the rightful King has landed.” When Jesus stood before the Roman governor Pilate, just prior to going to His execution, Pilate asked Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” After some discussion Pilate concluded to Jesus, “You are a king, then!” Jesus answered him, saying, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world…”
Of course, Jesus was not just any king; He was a king with a holy mission. He was a king who was born to die. “Amazing love, how can it be, that you my king would die for me.” Jesus was, and is, our Savior King. As author Charles Sell put it,
If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer. But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.
The “good news of great joy” that no less than the angel of the Lord reported to the shepherds was that, “today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you…” The late-great Charles Schultz was right. The heart and soul of the Christmas story is, as Linus perfectly recited, “[B]ehold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
Of course, as did the CBS executives during Schultz’s time, those fearful of the true meaning of Christmas go to great lengths to hide the truth. Today children (and adults) are bombarded with deceptive (but alluring) messages about “Christmas Spirit” and how Christmas is about “spreading joy throughout the world” and “a time for warmth and brotherly love” (as a recent TV cartoon declared). Even Dickens’ iconic A Christmas Carol is bereft of the complete message of Christmas.
One author I encountered a few years ago foolishly described the “hidden meaning” of Christmas as a:
…festival of the human heart. It is a time of year when all the universe conspires to raise the vibratory level of consciousness on earth to one of peace and love toward ourselves and one another. This season resonates to the sweet, childlike innocence that resides in all of us; A time when the heavenly forces inspire us to shift our focus away from fear and toward one of joy, and healing.
Of course, peace, brotherly love, and spreading joy are not bad things, but they are far from the “heart and soul” of Christmas. “Hark! The herald angels sing; glory to the newborn King!” So Christmas is a celebration of the birth of our Savior King. This is the reason for the conflict and contention that we sometimes encounter at Christmas time. This is why so many fear a Nativity scene, a Christmas tree, or even a meek “Merry Christmas.”
The Birth of Jesus depicted by Pietro Cavallini in 1291
Who wants to be confronted with the idea that maybe they are ignoring the most significant event in human history? Who wants to be reminded that perhaps Jesus Christ really was (and is) our Savior King? Of course, God sending His Son as a Savior implies that we need “saving.” The most quoted verse in the Bible, John 3:16 says, “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.” Less well known, but just as important, is the very next verse. John 3:17 says, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” This raises the question, “From what or whom do we need to be saved?”
In John chapter 8, Jesus says, “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” What does it mean to “die in your sins?” Romans chapter 6 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In other words, we need to be “saved” from the eternal consequences of our sin. There is eternal life with Jesus, and apart from Him, death and eternal separation from God.
This is why so many Christians are so celebratory at Christmas time. Yes, there are presents and parties and time off from work, but for Christians who truly understand what was done for them on that first Christmas day, nothing compares to the gift of eternal life through Jesus. Christmas is a celebration of God’s greatest gift meeting humanity’s most desperate need. Those who reject the need for salvation, or reject the miracle of Jesus, or reject their sin for what it really is, are “offended” by Christmas.
Such people don’t want to hear that Jesus came to die for their sins. They don’t want to hear of the many miracles that surround the birth of the Savior. They don’t want to hear that their greed, lust, or pride is sin. They want to go their own way; thus, they display perverse “Festivus Poles.” And again, we’ve all been there. May God empower those of us who see Christmas for what it truly is, who see Jesus for who He really is, to spread His message of hope, love, peace, and salvation to all we encounter, all year-round. Merry Christmas!