Thursday, December 6, 2012

The True Meaning of Christmas

"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”" --Matthew 1:22-23

    Most of us celebrate Christmas—I know I do. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. To those of you who celebrate it, what is your focus and what are you really celebrating? Most Christians (myself included) would probably say that it’s about the birth of Jesus Christ. But is that our real focus?
    I want you to think about that question. When Christmas rolls around, are you really focusing on Jesus Christ’s birth, or are you thinking about other things? Presents? Santa Claus? That really good pie your Grandma makes every year? Another question is: what do you look forward to on Christmas? Is it the giving or the receiving? Most of us would probably want to say the giving, because in the Bible says that it is better to give than receive. I know that’s what I would like to say, and I’m going to be honest with you—when I look past all the stuff Satan puts in my way, I find that I like the receiving better than the giving. Its our sinful nature that makes us this way, but with God’s help we can change that. This brings me back to my main point, but first, let me point something out here. I’ve been talking about the focus of Christmas, but the main point of this article is the meaning of Christmas. I will be talking about both, and both are important, but please note the difference between the terms.
    So far, I have talked about what our focus is and should be at Christmas, so now I’m going to give a little history to show why Jesus’ birth should be the focus of Christmas. During the reign of one of the Caesars, there was a young woman named Mary. She was a virgin and was engaged to a man named Joseph. An angel of the LORD came to Mary and told her that God had chosen her to give birth to his son. When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, he decided to cancel the wedding. But angel of the LORD came to him in a dream and told him to marry her anyway, because the baby was going to be God’s son.
    About that time, Caesar called for a census, requiring every man to go to his hometown to be registered. So Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, the city of David, Joseph’s hometown. Once they were registered, they went looking for a place to stay, but no one had room. They finally found a place in the stable of one of the inns. About this time, the baby boy was due any minute, so they prepared a place in the manger (which is where the animals would feed) for the child to lay in once he was born. Later that night, the baby boy was born and he was named Jesus as the angel commanded.
    Since this is the shortened version of the story, I left out the shepherds and the wise men, but for what I am talking about, it isn’t important right now. Now I am going to go a little into the future from that day (to about 30 years later) to explain the meaning of Christmas. Jesus had been betrayed by one of his disciples and after they celebrated  the Passover Supper (a meal that was to remind them of when God freed the Israelites from Egypt), Jesus was captured by the Jewish leaders and their followers because they and quite a few other leaders hated him. They then took him to Pontius Pilate, one of the Roman Prefects, who found that Jesus had done nothing wrong. During this time of year, one prisoner would be released because of the Jewish celebrations, so Pilate said he would release Jesus. However, the people shouted that they wanted the man named Barabbas to be released instead, so Pilate did as the people asked and Jesus was hung from a cross, an execution usually reserved for the worst criminals. After three days, Jesus came back to life, and later went to heaven to be with God, his Father.
    The Bible says that we are sinful and that we all fall short of the glory of God. God sent Jesus, His one and only Son, to die on the cross for your sins and my sins and your neighbor sins; he died for everyone’s sins! The only way we can be with God is if we accept God’s free gift of salvation. The way we can receive that gift is when we accept some very important things. First, God exists. Second, God is a Just God, meaning that he cannot stand sin and therefore has to punish it. Third, you need to believe that God wants us to be with him and sent Jesus to die to take the punishment for your sins. Fourth, You need to accept that you are sinful and need a savior. If you have any questions, please post a comment. I will try to respond ASAP.
    Now back to my main point. Christmas isn’t about the gifts at all. It’s not even just about Jesus being born. Most importantly, it’s about how Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for everyone’s sins. That is the true meaning of Christmas.


Image by Leaping Lizard


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