Recently I went to my church small group’s Christmas party. We ate, we sang, we prayed, and we shared. At one point we began talking about our favorite memories of Christmas. There were remembrances of cutting live trees, decorating, family meals, singing carols, and opening gifts.
As we went around the room I realized that I have no memories of my early Christmases… not one. I don’t remember anything about any childhood Christmas celebrations – nothing stands out until after I became a Christian in college. I can remember shoveling snow, going places, even driving through our town looking at light displays but, I just don’t have any specific family recollections.
After accepting Christ I began enjoying Christmas not so much as a social or cultural event but as a personal acknowledgment of the birth of my Savior and Lord. With that Christian perspective, Christmas was more about His presence than my presents. After all, isn’t it all about Him? The phrase “Jesus is the reason for the season” may have become a cliché but it is absolutely true.
It’s significant that the early church did not have Christmas observances. The big, first century, celebration was Easter. Christ’s resurrection is mentioned over 130 times in the New Testament with His birth showing up in only 42 verses (Matthew 1:18-24, Luke 2:1-20, Matthew 2:1-16). So, other than the obvious marketing and profit motivations of the world around us, why should Christ-followers remember Christmas?
The first thing for us to remember is that Jesus actually was born. Christ is not some mythical character of fiction like Jack Frost, Santa Claus, or Frosty the Snowman – Although He was God, Jesus was a real man.
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 1 John 4:2
The second thing essential for our Christmas celebration is to remember that Jesus was born so that He could die. You might say, “What’s so special about that? Everybody dies.” But Christ came with the specific purpose of dying in order to pay the penalty for our sins.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Even the angels on Christ’s birthday knew His purpose in coming to this earth.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10–11
Jesus’ purpose was even acknowledged by humans of the day.
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29
And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant— Luke 1:67–69
When Christ was just eight days old His parents took Him to the temple. When Simeon, a righteous old man, saw Jesus, in Luke 2:30, he didn’t see a newborn baby – He saw the salvation of the world when he prayed, “my eyes have seen Your salvation.”
Therefore our fondest memory of the Christmas holiday should be that Jesus was born into this world, to live a sinless life, and then die to pay the penalty of death my sin demanded. What joy! Jesus was born to die for me! If that doesn’t cause a celebration, a few gifts under the tree just don’t matter.
Our third and last memory of Christmas should be obedience to Christ’s command to remember Him. One of the very last things Jesus commanded his disciples (and those of us who are His followers) to do was to remember Him.
And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19
In the context of the Lord’s Supper, believers are to celebrate, not the ceremony of Communion, but all that Jesus came to accomplish. He came to spill His blood and have His body broken for us all!
It’s Christmas – we are commanded to remember the Jesus of points one and two above. Remember He was really born. It’s a fact! Then remember He was born in order to die for you. Yes, you personally. Now, THAT is a memory to cherish… forever!
Think about it… and have a blessed Christmas.