It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of this season, what with all the lights and gift buying and TV movies and carols playing incessantly on the radio. It’s easy to get caught up in the cultural celebration of the holidays and lose sight of the why. But I am going to propose to you that even Christians have gotten it wrong. Yes, “Jesus is the reason for the season”, but did you ever consider why?
I think that Christmas is about celebrating eternal life with God. The Christmas story looks forward to the possibility of having a new relationship with God the Father. It’s not just about a baby born in a manger. I think it’s much, much bigger and more exciting than that.
But to get the full scope of Christmas we have to start way back. I mean way back to Adam in the Garden of Eden. The story is pretty simple, Adam deliberately and knowingly disobeyed God and as a result sin and death entered the world. This is what Paul tells us in Romans 5:19. And every human born since Adam has been tainted, corrupted by that stain of sin making it impossible for any one of us to pay the penalty that a righteous God requires for our disobedience. We are stuck! Our relationship with our Creator has been broken and we are unable to do anything to restore it. We can do nothing… but God can and He did. This is where the miracle of Christmas starts, with God acting on our behalf. Here is the key Scripture that is fundamental to the salvation story.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And 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 bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to 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.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38, ESV)
You see many people reading this passage either skip over it and don’t give it much thought, or they focus on Mary’s response to the angel’s proclamation. In either case, they miss the point. To me the point is that the Father took the initiative to ensure that there would be a way to repair the broken relationship with humans. God acted to fulfill His own prophetic words spoken to the serpent in Genesis 3:15 that her seed would crush his head. It was the seed of a woman, not a man, that would undo the result of the Fall. You see, Mary was going to conceive a child without the intervention of a human male; therefore the child would be holy and totally unique in the history of the world. Every other person was tainted by Adam’s sin… except ONE! Jesus would be the perfect, sinless sacrifice for our sin. This is what gives us hope. This is what makes the Cross effective and forgiveness of sin possible!
The miracle of the Christmas story is not that a child was born – babies were born all the time – but that THIS child was born. THIS child conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born to a virgin young woman. THIS child that showed God’s willingness to intervene in human history. We celebrate, therefore, with joy the possibility of eternal life with God. Without this truth – the conception and virgin birth – the rest of the story would not matter.
This is what makes Christmas worth celebrating.
O come let us adore Him!