You have grown up hearing about Christmas, but now you want to know what it is actually about.
You want to move beyond the language and discover the truth of who Jesus is. Why are we are still talking about His birth two-thousand later? Suppose you find an answer to that question, but you are probably still curious about what that means for you. How does understanding the birth of Jesus help you today, right here and now? That’s a reasonable question to ask, but the real question is, “What hope do any of us possibly have without Him?”
There is so much pain and suffering on the earth today, taking a dizzying array of forms and degrees, and eventually, the roads of our plight lead back to death and all its disastrous effects. How can death be stopped? The Bible reveals that the reason everyone dies is because of sin (Romans 6:23, 1 Corinthians 15:56). We were created to live forever, but rebellion against God’s plan caused us to fall into ruin.
This takes us deeper into the dark caverns of our problem and raises the question of how sin can be overcome.
What makes this so formidable is that we are born with sin knocking on the door of our hearts. The Church has used the word depravity to describe this truth, but it is just as clear to anyone who has ever been a parent. We enter this world with a propensity toward wrongdoing. Parents pass down the seeds of corruption to their children and we inherit an inclination toward sin. Everyone is responsible for the decisions they make and what they do with their inclinations, but it is present in all of us. Here the plot really thickens. You need to ponder this predicament until it actually hits you. When will it stop?
How can we escape the gravity of our very nature and defeat sin?
The thunderous message from our collective history that we must hear is that there had to be an intervention. A new, sinless humanity was required! This is the miracle of the Christmas story – a new humanity was given!
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”…Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:26-35
The birth of Jesus was the fulfillment of many of the promises made by God and a pledge that many more promises would also happen. This is a glorious truth.
In the birth of Jesus, God was intervening and writing a new story by creating a new humanity. When the shepherds visited the manger in Bethlehem that night, for the first time since the beginning there was a real man with a beating heart and breath in His lungs utterly free from every trace of sin!
Perhaps memories of the “Virgin Mary” from childhood Christmas pageants never made sense. Now, in this light, we see that the miraculous birth, which at first appears odd, was such a wonderfully fitting answer to the hopeless condition of humanity. This Jewish woman named Mary, from the town of Nazareth became part of God’s plan to accomplish what thousands of years of human history could not: a sinless man who could take on death and win. The humanness of Jesus was not the product of procreation and therefore not subject to the inherited corruption of our fallen nature. Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, and the child in her womb was the Holy One!
“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” Hebrews 9:27-28
Jesus came into the world to lay down His life as a sacrifice for our sins by dying on a cross.
And because Jesus had no sin whatsoever, it was impossible for Him to stay dead (Acts 2:24). The grave could not hold Him, and Jesus burst forth in resurrection-life on the day we celebrate as Easter. Jesus defeated death once-and-for-all and will come again to make all things new. The kingdom which the angel Gabriel spoke of to Mary will be a reign of peace, justice, and blessing to all peoples for all time. The heavy sighs of a world burdened by suffering will flee away and tears of anguish will be no more.
The gifts we share around a twinkling tree and the image of a silent night in the little town of Bethlehem are wonderful parts of Christmas. The real meaning of this season, however, goes far beyond nostalgic sentiment to the deepest and darkest questions of existence to offer the hope of new life. Although we still await the fullness of this hope, you can begin to find your part in this story right now. Take the first step on this path and find a church where others will gather to remember the birth of Jesus. Begin learning more about who Jesus really is and what He came to do by reading the Bible and discovering Him for yourself.
Christmas happened two-thousand years ago, but the power of Christmas is still happening this holiday season. Start your journey!