For the Bible-believing Christian, Christmas is both a wonderful and challenging holiday. Yes, all of the good things about Christmas bring great joy to those that worship and love God; at the same time, there is a dark side to this time of year that causes much sorrow. During the season chosen to commemorate the birth of Christ, and in the celebration of that miracle, experts tell us that what will really mark this season is the yearly statistical high for: alcohol consumption, credit card debt, suicide attempts, spousal abuse, severe depression, and drunk driving. All done in the name of Christmas! We might add to that list the following spiritual ailments: materialism, covetousness, strife, and worldliness. How this must grieve the very heart of God.
What a paradox this holiday is! Consider this. Can you think of any other holiday that we must constantly remind ourselves to keep properly? Have you ever heard “Keep the pumpkin in Halloween?” How about “Thankfulness is the reason for Thanksgiving?” Ever hear “Don’t take the flag out of the Fourth of July?” Yet, when it comes to Christmas, we must constantly remind ourselves that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, lest we slip and “take Christ out of Christmas.” There is no other holiday that brings into direct conflict the desire to love God and the temptation to love the world as much as the Christmas holiday. And yet, this inner conflict that many Christians face is indeed part of the Christian life, and must be faced and dealt with biblically. Indeed, this conflict (God’s Son and His Word versus Man’s World and his Sin) formed the backdrop for the incarnation itself.
The Word of God says, “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: but when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Galatians 4:3-5) Grieved by man’s bondage to the system of the world, and motivated by His boundless love for man, God conceived the only plan of salvation that would allow His sense of Holiness and Justice to be satisfied. This plan of salvation was set into motion when these words of Gabriel to Mary were accomplished: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore that Holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) The miracle of the Virginal Conception thus resulted in the birth of the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the bridge between a Holy God and a sinful world. That is why the Scriptures refer to Him as the “one mediator between God and men.”
Because of His unique person — God incarnate — He alone was able to die for the sins of mankind. Through His sacrificial death, He alone could completely satisfy the anger of a Just and Holy God. This is what Isaiah meant when he said, “Yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him.” (Isaiah 53:4,5) The most wonderful aspect of all of this is how it ultimately affects those who believe this Gospel and trust in Christ; as Paul said in the Galatians passage quoted above — they are redeemed from the bondage of the world and adopted as sons and daughters in the family of God. Thank God for the incarnation! This is the miracle of Christmas! God the Father giving His Son for the benefit of spiritually impoverished man.
As this Christmas Season finds itself in full swing and Christmas Day is upon, may we who esteem this day esteem it unto the Lord. May we let the miracle of the incarnation be real in our lives. May we, as followers of Christ, be in the world but not of the world. May we encounter the needs of those in this world with compassion and sacrifice. May this season be one in which we truly touch the lives of others in a way that brings them release from the bondage of this world. For Jesus’ sake, may it be so!