Occasionally, when discussing whether or not Christians should celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th, I will hear a well-meaning Christian say something like, “The birth of Jesus isn’t what really matters; it’s His death that matters.” Or someone will say, “Jesus had to be born in order for Him to die, but that’s the only reason His birth matters.” I wholeheartedly disagree with these sentiments; here are a few thoughts on why we can’t afford to miss the monumental significance of the birth of Jesus Christ.
It’s Not About Christmas
This post isn’t about Christmas. It’s not about whether it’s right or wrong to have an annual festival celebrating His birth; and it’s not about the historical inaccuracy of the date, the incorporation of pagan traditions into the celebrations, or even the perpetuation of Catholic dogma. This post is about so much more than that. The birth of Jesus is about so much more than that!
In fact, I would say that in relegating the celebration of Jesus’ birth to a single day in December, we have trivialized His birth. Statements like, “Jesus is the reason for the season” are almost insultingly understated. Jesus is the reason for EVERY season. In fact, Jesus is the reason for EVERYTHING.
“For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17).
Jesus didn’t come to Earth in order to be celebrated once a year. His is not “the Christmas story,” it’s “the Christ story.” And it matters because it’s the most significant event in human history. It’s the event up to which everything before it led, and to which everything after it points.
1. God’s Faithfulness Matters
God has made and fulfilled a lot of promises, but the birth of Jesus is the greatest fulfillment of a promise ever! God promised Abraham, “In your seed all nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 22:18). And Abraham’s descendants waited a couple thousand years for the fulfillment of that promise. Jesus is that seed – that descendent – of Abraham, through whom all nations of the earth are being blessed (Galatians 3:16).
Israel was also waiting for the son of David, the “Messiah,” who would come and reign over an eternal kingdom. Many generations of God’s people lived and died, waiting to see this deliverer of Israel. Jesus is that King. This is why Matthew begins his gospel account with, “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham…” (Matthew 1:1). Jesus now eternally reigns as Lord of lords and King of kings!
Yes, His birth matters! It certainly mattered to faithful Jews, who waited their entire lives – like Simeon and Anna – to see God’s salvation and “the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:22-38). And it matters to any of us who find ourselves in seemingly hopeless situations. It matters for all of us who wait upon the Lord. The birth of Jesus is a joyful declaration, “God is always faithful! He always keeps His promises!”
2. God’s Dwelling with Us Matters
The news gets even better, because John began his gospel account by declaring that God had been born into the world! John said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:1,14). Don’t let the familiarity of that passage cause you to miss what John was saying, “God…became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Wow! Let that sink in, God became flesh and dwelt among His creation. This is what “Immanuel” means, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). That is what the birth of Jesus is about! God came to earth and dwelt with us.
The part of the story where Jesus is born of a virgin and laid in a manger is just part of the “incarnation story,” but what a marvelous story it is! God is not some distant and faceless Creator, who just wound up the world, set it in motion, and sat back to watch it unwind. No, He came and took up residence with us.
He felt what we feel and experienced what we experience. God was hungry! He was thirsty! He got tired! He wept! He bled! If that doesn’t matter, then nothing does! Yes, the birth of Jesus matters because one of the three persons of the Godhead became flesh and dwelt among us.
3. God Becoming a SERVANT Matters
And finally, the birth of Jesus matters because one of the members of the Godhead “emptied Himself” (Philippians 2:7). In other words, He surrendered the rights and privileges that deity afforded Him. While in the flesh, He was no longer omnipresent; He could only be in one place at a time. While in the flesh, He was no longer omnipotent; He ran out of energy, getting tired, thirsty, and hungry. While in the flesh, He was no longer omniscient; He had to learn and grow in wisdom (Luke 2:40).
Paul calls Jesus becoming a man, “taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7). Isn’t that a powerful thought? The Son of God took the form of a servant. He surrendered His rights and privileges, He washed feet, and He became obedient.
This matters significantly because if we are going to follow Jesus, we must also take the form of a servant. We must, “in humility count others more significant than [ourselves]” (Philippians 2:3). If the Son of God became an obedient servant, then certainly those who follow Him must be obedient servants as well.
I realize many of us – with good reason – feel uncomfortable setting aside a special day to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but let us not go to the other extreme and say the birth of Jesus doesn’t matter. The birth of Jesus does matter. It matters this time of year and every time of year. My concern isn’t “keeping Christ in Christmas,” it’s keeping Christ preeminent in ALL things.
I love you and God loves you,