What Christmas Is Really All About

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The Christmas classic ballet, The Nutcracker, spins the tale of an animated wooden nutcracker, whose fight against the evil Mouse King transforms him back to his true form, a prince.

Beloved by many, the fable chronicles the story of its protagonist, Clara’s, realization that there’s a world beyond the only one she’s ever known: one that’s controlled by an evil king: the same evil king that the heroic nutcracker, who has taken on an entirely different nature to do so, eventually defeats.

Of course, the actual Christmas story is far more miraculous and magnificent. Rather than just an amusing fantasy dreamt up to warm children’s hearts, it’s the description of the beginning of the most important events that have ever occurred here on earth: events prophesied about hundreds of years before they ever happened.

In the true Christmas account, the Prince of Peace takes on human flesh, eventually conquers sin and Satan by His death and Resurrection, and reconciles sinful believers to the holy God. But why? Why did these events, told and retold for the last 2,000 years all over the planet, need to happen?

Most people, if they are truly honest with themselves, know that something is dreadfully wrong with this life. We recognize that even though we live in a world full of marvelous beauty and wonder, there’s also great evil—something broken about this place, something just not right. And we know that no matter how good life may be at this moment, there is an end coming.

From the moment we begin our existence, our life’s “clock” begins a relentless countdown towards our death. We don’t know when that day may be, and for some it comes sooner than others.

What Will Happen When You Die?

Many believe that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. So the question then is, “Are you a good person?”

Pretend that on the day you were born, an invisible camera came into being and recorded everything you ever thought, every deed you ever did, and every word you ever said. All of the things you’ve done that you thought no one ever saw.

And on the day you died, you stood in front of God, in his courtroom, and were judged by his standards based on the evidence shown, streamed from the video captured by that camera. How would you like to sit down on a nice cozy couch with God at your side and watch a slow-motion re-run of your life in intimate detail? How would you like to do that with your mom?

As you watched that record, would you be found guilty of any of the following sins? Lying, stealing, greed, hatred, cheating, envy, violence, idolatry, gossip, blasphemy, adultery, murder, arrogance, deceit, cruelty, occult practices, drunkenness, sexual deviancy, unforgiveness, abuse, disrespect, spite, lust, viewing pornography, slander  . . . ?

The Bible says, "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment," (Hebrews 9:27).

Based on the evidence against you, would God judge you innocent and worthy of heaven, or guilty and deserving of eternity in hell? Be honest  . . . even by man’s standards most people wouldn’t consider us good, but certainly—according to the all-knowing, perfect God—you are NOT a good person (none of us are).

The Bible says that all people have sinned and are guilty before God, who is a holy and righteous judge (Romans 3:23). Many have an idea of God that is only merciful and will just pardon us if we ask for forgiveness. But an honest judge must punish the guilty people brought before him or else he would be an UNFAIR judge. A good judge cannot simply free guilty criminals like frauds, thieves, rapists, and murderers, because it simply wouldn’t be FAIR!

[W]ho will by no means clear the guilty  . . . (Exodus 34:7)

We’re helpless to pardon ourselves; no amount of religion or good works can pay for our crimes or change our sinful nature. So, is there any hope? Yes!

The good news recorded in the Bible is that in an amazing act of undeserved grace and mercy, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ (God in the flesh, fully God and fully man), to live a perfect life and die on a cross, to bear the punishment sinners deserve, and to be our ransom (Mark 10:45).

God loves his people so much that he literally sacrificed himself and bore the punishment we deserved to pay, but couldn’t. Jesus rose again after three days and conquered sin and death. And for those who put their faith and trust in him alone for their righteousness, they can be saved from the coming wrath of God against sinners.

We can be released from our judgement in God’s court of law because Jesus paid our debt in full. God promises that those who repent and believe the GOOD NEWS about Jesus Christ will be forgiven of their sin and have eternal life with their Creator God (John 3:18).

You see, repentance is not just saying you’re sorry to God. It means a change of heart about obeying God and his Word (the Bible). It includes a godly sorrow that comes from admitting you are a sinner, deserving of God’s punishment, leading to a desire to follow God and live a Christ-centered life.

As the Son of God, this Prince has reigned in harmony with his Father from eternity past. The Bible begins with the truth of the Creator:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

The Gospel of John begins similarly and identifies the Agent of Creation as the Son:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:1–3)

At Christmas time, we celebrate the day that the eternal Creator entered his creation. The Creator who stretched out the heavens was laid beneath them in a manger.

The limitless Son of God took on human limitations. As a baby, Jesus humbled Himself and depended on Joseph and Mary for care and nourishment. Yet the humility of his incarnation didn’t detract from the glory of his deity:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Although full of glory, the Lord Jesus wasn’t welcomed here, even from birth. The Baby’s cradle was a manger because no proper room could be found. Lowly shepherds visited the newborn Savior. King Herod sought to kill Jesus by ordering the slaughter of the babies in and around Bethlehem. Creation neither knew, nor received their Creator:

He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (John 1:10–11)

The same rejection happens today as “Merry Christmas” is replaced with “Happy holidays,” and nativities are banned from public display in many places. These outward changes are a sign of hearts that refuse Jesus. People hang Christmas lights yet hide their eyes from the “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” (John 1:9). Why?

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:19–20).

The reason so many reject Jesus, the “light of the world” (John 8:12), is that they love the sin that Christ’s light exposes. Sinful mankind would rather cling to their pretended-independence, immorality, idolatry, irreverence, and other sinful indulgences than turn in repentant faith to Jesus as the only Savior from sin and Lord of life.

Many continue to reject the Prince of Peace. And the enemy, Satan, “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), strives to blind men from the light:

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

But there is hope. God the Father makes rescue missions into dark enemy territory:

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13–14)
The Son willingly gave himself to be laid in the manger, and later laid on the cross.

Redemption means to free by paying a ransom. Christ gave his life as a ransom to the Father by dying in the sinner’s place (Matthew 20:28; 1 Peter 2:24). The Son willingly gave himself to be laid in the manger, and later laid on the cross. In his book God’s Gift of Christmas, Pastor John MacArthur wrote,

Those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them. Those baby feet, pink and unable to walk, would one day walk up a dusty hill to be nailed to a cross. . . Jesus was born to die.

Yes, Jesus was born to die for sin and rise in victory. And the sinner who receives Jesus becomes a child of God:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12–13)

Because of Jesus’ birth into this world for redemption, the sinner can be born into the family of God. That’s reason to celebrate at Christmas, and throughout the year!

At this special time, I encourage you to stop and pray to God, thank him for his mercy, and for what Jesus did, and to put him first in your life.

Merry Christmas!

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