I think many people today believe Christmas has evolved into nothing more than a great family holiday. Very little emphasis is placed on the spiritual significance of Christmas other than possibly going to a Christmas Eve service. While these services can be quite beautiful there is so much more to the meaning of Christmas.
The true significance of Christmas is that God sent His son into the world. But why? Over the years, from reading the Bible, I have concluded that there are four reasons for the incarnation, and there may be more than four. Today I will write about two of them, and next week I will cover the other two.
First, the incarnation serves as God’s special revelation. God reveals Himself so that we can see He is real and that He exists. The human search for God will always be an effort in futility, unless He chooses to reveal himself in a convincing manner.
This is what He did in the person of Christ. John tells us that God “became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory.” (John 1:14). In the book of Hebrews we learn that Jesus, “is the radiance of God’s glory and is the exact representation of His nature.
In Christ we not only see that God exists, but we can see what He is like. In Christ, God is revealed to man. The great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky said, “My faith is not built on arguments of logic or reason, it is built on revelation.”
So Jesus is God’s special revelation to the world.
A second reason that God sent His Son into the world is what most people consider to be the most important reason.
In Mathew 1:18-21, we read about Joseph discovering that Mary had become pregnant and he is not the father. He does not want to disgrace her and plans to send her away secretly. And then we read in Mathew:
But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying,
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.”
From these words we learn that Jesus’s mission was established before He was even born. He was coming to save us from our sins.
The heart of salvation is to be forgiven of our sins, and to recognize that we cannot save ourselves. We are all separated from God by our sinfulness yet, “…the Lord caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” (Isaiah 53:6). Jesus came to save us from God’s wrath, and He did this by absorbing God’s wrath on the cross.
However, He not only came to save us from God’s wrath, but also to save us from ourselves. Human beings have an incredible propensity to self-destruct. We like to go our own way. The Bible says we are like sheep that go astray, that we choose to do what is right in our own eyes.
As I look back upon my life and think about all the men I have interacted with and counseled over the years, I have concluded that our lives are nothing more than the sum of the choices we have made over time. Most of our problems and struggles are the result of bad decisions. It is a reaping. This is the way God designed life. As the prophet Isaiah put it, “we eat the fruit of our actions.”
The apostle Peter gives great insight into this. “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls.” (I Peter 2:25) Jesus desires to be our Shepherd, the Guardian of our souls. He desires to save us from ourselves.
Next week we will consider two additional reasons God sent Jesus into the world. In doing so, I hope that we all recognize that Christmas, the coming of Christ, is the most consequential event in all of history. The apostle Paul put it this way, “Thanks be to God, for His indescribable gift.” (II Corinthians 9:15) Jesus is the greatest gift the world has ever seen.