Christmas with a Cross

I love Christmas! It’s easily my favorite time of the year. It really does seem to me that people are a little more gracious to one another. There’s a sense of brotherhood when a stranger greets you with “Merry Christmas”. Many stop and smile and wave as our church sings Christmas carols in front of Starbucks. People become a little more sentimental, and maybe, just for a few weeks, stop to ponder things that are more important than their job, sports, and pop culture. It seems to me that the world is a little more receptive to spiritual things at Christmas time, a little more open to talk about Jesus.

As much as I love reading A Christmas Carol, listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, the decorations, the lights, exchanging presents, and drinking eggnog…Christmas isn’t about those things. It’s not about family and friends, either, although it’s certainly a great time to be thankful for both. It’s not about goodwill to men, as Dickens wrote (except for the goodwill of a loving God who wants to redeem us to Himself). Christmas is about Jesus Christ.

We can become so used to the great and wonderful truths of Christianity that they begin to lose their luster in our eyes. So I’d like you to stop and think about this for a minute: the Son of God was born as child for me and you. That is a truth so incomprehensibly great that we really can’t even wrap our minds around it.

What makes it even better is why He was born. I think people often don’t really think about why Jesus came. Certainly the world would be this way. For Christians, it may not be that we forget exactly, but it becomes a little bit out of focus. We may focus so much on His birth at Christmas time that we don’t stop to ponder and be grateful for why He came in the first place.

So why did He come? Well Jesus said it Himself in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” He said in John 6:38, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”

What was the lost thing Jesus was seeking? Us! You and me. God had prophesied a coming Savior all the way back in Genesis when Adam and Eve first sinned and brought damnation upon mankind. It was always His plan to redeem us back to Himself. As John 3:16 says, “For God so love the world, that he sent His only begotten Son. That whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Because of God’s unfathomable love for us, it was His will to send Jesus to seek and save that which had been lost to Him. (See “Why Jesus?” by Charles Marino)

This means there is a certain bittersweetness to Christ’s birth. God being born in human form is a cause for great celebration. Christ’s provision and gift of eternal life to us is the most wonderful truth that exists. But our salvation come at a high cost. While angels and men rejoiced at Christ’s birth, God saw something on the horizon that no one else did-a cross. A cross where the holy, sinless, perfect Son of God would be brutally murdered because you and I have sinned against a holy and righteous God. God saw a time when He would have to pour out His wrath against sin on His own Son.

It is right and good to celebrate the birth of Christ with great festivity, but let us not forget why He was born in the first place. In the midst of your celebration, take time to worship God for the sacrifice He made to redeem a world that in no way deserves redemption. Take time to thank Him and praise Him for offering salvation to you and me, who deserved nothing but condemnation. Then, take time to thank Him for what He has given us-eternal life. I want to leave you with a passage in Revelation that shows us just a glimpse of how wonderful that life will be when we are in heaven with our Savior:

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. (Revelation 7:9-17)

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