What is Christmas? (by Joseph Bertin)

UnknownOur man-made traditions show us that Christmas is a time of celebration. Certainly, we decorate our homes with brightly colored lights and decorations. We wrap gifts in festive paper and ribbons. But, do we really understand the reasons why? Do we really know the significance of what we celebrate?

We have been told since childhood that it is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. But, what makes this day any different than any other day? Why celebrate the birth of someone many have never physically seen with their eyes or with whom they have never had a meaningful conversation? Who is Jesus and why is His birth so significant? If we turn to our Bibles we will find the answers.

Scripture tells us that His birth was foretold long before it actually occurred. Genesis 3:15 is the first verse which predicted His coming. Genesis 12:1-3 indicates that He would be the promised seed. Genesis 49:10 proclaims that the Messiah (Jesus) would come from the tribe of Judah. Psalm 2:7-8 says He would be the Son of God. Isaiah 7:14 states that He would be born of a virgin. Isaiah 9:6 prophesied that He is deity. Micah 5:1-3 predicted Bethlehem as His birthplace. All of these prophecies were true. But, who is Jesus and what did He do that we celebrate His birth? Why did God come to Earth as a man? If God was so displeased with man, why not, with one word, destroy all and start again?

Looking at the New Testament we learn that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life” (John 3:16). But this still does not fully explain why Jesus was born. Looking further we will find many reasons why Jesus came and certainly the reasons we celebrate His birth.

He came:

  • Down from Heaven to do the will of His Father (John 6:38)
  • To fulfill the Law and the words of the prophets (Matthew 5:17)
  • God anointed Jesus to preach the gospel, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, give sight to the blind, provide liberty to the oppressed (Luke 4:18; Isaiah 61:1-2)
  • To save the lost (sinners) (Luke 19:10)
  • To abolish ceremonialism (Daniel 9:27)
  • To destroy satan’s works (Hebrews 2:14; John 3:8)
  • To bring everlasting righteousness (Daniel 9:24)
  • To give life (John 10:10, 28)

The Bible also gives many other reasons for His coming. But what did Jesus do and teach us while He was here as a man?

The New Testament tells of the wonderful miracles and teachings of Jesus. It tells of how Jesus taught of compassion (Matthew 15:22-28; Luke 10:30-37). He taught us about sin (John 8:34-36) and repentance (Matthew 11:20-24). There were also His lessons on pardoning (Luke 6:37), reconciliation (Matthew 5:23-24) and forgiveness ((Matthew 6:12,14-15; Mark 11:25-26). Jesus also instructed us all to handle disputes (Mark 9:33-35). He taught us not to judge others (Matthew 7:1-2), of retaliation and vengeance (Matthew 5:39-48; Hebrews 10:30). His instructions included teachings on conduct (Matthew 5:16), pleasing God (John 8:29), and eternal life (Matthew 19:28-30). He taught about honor of parents (Matthew 15:3-6). Perhaps the greatest teachings of Jesus were His lessons on love. He taught us to love one another (John 13:34), to love our enemies (Luke 6:27). He also taught us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13); for He loved us all so much that He died for our sins (Romans 5:8). These are only some of the many teachings of Jesus. But, what are we commanded by Jesus to do?

Before we can truly follow the teachings and commands of Jesus it is important that we be transformed (Romans 12:2) and follow the example of Jesus (John 13:15). We must become imitators of Christ (1 Peter 2:21-24) and believe in Him (John 1). But, how do we do this? Just look to Romans 10:9-13, which tells us to confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our heart that God, raised Him from the dead and we will be saved. It is that simple. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we are saved by grace through faith, it is a gift of God and cannot be achieved by our works. John 20:31 tells us that by believing we may have life in His name. But, how is this evidenced?

According to Ephesians 4 we are told to walk worthy of the calling, in humility and patience, loving one another in peace (Ephesians 4:1-13). This is further explained in Colossians 3:12-17, which also instructs us to forgive one another, to let the word of Christ dwell in our hearts and to do all in the name of Jesus.

Since Christmas is supposed to be the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16), should we not give Him the gifts He so richly deserves for all He has done for us and taught us? Should we not give Him our hearts, our minds, our actions? Let us praise and glorify Him not just one day of the year but each and every day in prayer, thanksgiving, and love. Let us follow His example and do all He has taught us. Let us put Him first in all we think, say, and do. Let us first start by forgiving those who have harmed us. Let us seek the forgiveness of those we have harmed. Let us love one another as Jesus has loved us.

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