“…it’s the the reason for the season!”
With the present over-the-top, beyond-reason (and our pocket-books) marketing of Christmas, is it any reason we need reminders like this? But, what does this mean anyway? Within the maze of religious humanism which we can so easily find ourselves in today, have we lost our perspective? “True north”, so to speak? Here’s another way to look at it; God meant for the shepherds to follow the angel’s instruction to the Christ; the star for the Magi; for Christ to walk obediently to the cross; and for us to follow him to the Father.
So, when we look at the star or the angel on top of the Christmas tree, what does it mean again? The arrival of Immanuel, of course. Baby Jesus. God in the flesh, as a man, on this earth, …the messiah. “True North” is more than baby Jesus; it’s a life that would lead to death on a cross, which would lead to life. Follow these next thoughts with me…
In Paul’s letter to Titus he speaks of God’s infinite knowledge and intentions for mankind. Titus 1:2 says “in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,”. Before time as we know it, before creation, God’s will was set: to send a savior. Remarkable. Even knowing that man would sin, God completed His beloved creation, committing to sacrifice His son in order to finish the task and ensure eternal relationship.
Luke 2:25-32. Here is Simeon, a faithful priest of God serving in the Temple, whom God promised would see the Messiah during his lifetime. Simeon prophesies under the power of the Holy Spirit the destiny of this child: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
John 3:16-17. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.“
“So why did Jesus come, again?”
Luke 22:15. “And he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.’ ” Everything Jesus had done in life had led him to this point. He knew exactly what this passover represented. He was to be Passover lamb this year, for all people in every nation, living in any time period. Eternal death would pass-over people’s sin, and they could enter into eternal life with God. But, to have Jesus say, I have “eagerly”, (that is with expectancy, and joy, and excitement!) been waiting for this time…? That is too incredible for me to fathom. Truly, his joy at the result of his obedience in death, was outweighing the coming torture.
Exodus 3:8. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey-” Moses encountering the burning bush wasn’t simply about Moses receiving his calling. That happened, that’s a fact. But why…? To fulfill God’s covenant with Abraham, create a nation, and through that covenant bring Jesus to save mankind, forever.
Among all of the other paradoxes in Christianity (lose your life in order to gain it, be last in order to be first, God is greatest in our weakness, death = life…) surely the fact that an innocent baby comes to live a perfect and pure life, and be sacrificed for others who don’t deserve it, tops them all. Couple that with the resurrection, and this is not just “good news” anymore, this is great news!
So, what’s the reason for the season? As my pastor said recently, “Something needs to change. We need to change our celebrating of the FACT that Jesus came, and instead celebrate WHY he came.” Not playing with semantics, but really, let’s ask ourselves; when was the last time we looked at the gifts under the tree, the wreaths on the doors, the extended shopping hours and so on, thinking the reason for the season is Jesus on the cross, bringing eternal life ?
Our response is not wrong in form: excitement, celebration, gratitude for gifts, the joy of giving to others, relationships, family, and more. But perhaps we are wrong at times in reason. Perhaps we are robbing ourselves of even more joy which comes through the realization of what it meant for Jesus to come as a baby, in order to die a man, for us. A response of gratitude and worship is all we can give. Giving becomes more appropriate than receiving, and the way up is obviously seen as Jesus coming down to us, 2000+ years ago! The next time we greet someone with “merry Christmas”, be reminded to send out a quick prayer that they would also come to the realization of the real reason for the season; “Celebrate! God is here to save you!”
Please understand me, I love Christmas! I love the gatherings, family, the food (oh yeah, the foooood), the time-off from work, and all the rest of it! But, the enemy wants us to turn it into just another holiday; God always saw it as a marvelous outreach! That’s the reason for the season; Jesus. His life that pays for ours. His obedience, God’s grace, our gratitude. I can celebrate that. Can others?
Joy to the world! The Lord has come!
Merry Christmas! (not happy holidays 😉 )