Every communicator is taught to pay extra attention to the introduction and conclusion of their message. The introduction is designed to establish the need for what is to come. The conclusion is designed to reinforce the meaning of what has been said. Applying these principles to the life of Jesus can give us a new insight to the meaning of Christmas.
Ironically, the best description of the meaning of Christmas I’ve ever heard came from someone who has never celebrated it. Talk show host, Larry King, was asked, “If you could interview any historical person, who would it be and what would you want to know?”
Without hesitation, King replied, “Jesus of Nazareth. And I would like to ask him if he was indeed virgin-born—if the Christmas story were true—because the answer to that question would define history for me.”
Mr. King’s response is not mere cultural speak. It’s biblical. The Gospel of John, in the New Testament, says of Jesus Christ, “10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:10-11, ESV). Those two verses mean the Son of God came to people’s first-century doorsteps and yet they failed to recognize him. That is a damning statement. In our own day, many people still fail or flat-out refuse to recognize him. However, John adds a note of hope, “12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 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, ESV).
John says Christmas means that Jesus left the comforts of heaven and became a child on earth so that those who embrace Him could leave the pains of earth and become a child of heaven. Stop and consider the implications.
Christmas means that on a particular day in history, God drew near to us in a unique way.
God has always had a relationship with His creation, but at Christmas it rose to a new level. To understand the shift, imagine an overseas friend that you’ve met online suddenly moves to Owensboro and begins living in your house. You already knew about this other person; you understood their character to a degree; you may have even admired their passions. But now you’re growing to know them in a more intimate way. And they are growing to know you in a personal way, as well. Whatever relationship existed before has now taken on a qualitative difference. This is what happened at the first Christmas. We came to know God as He came to know us.
Christmas means that every day is now saturated with God’s presence.
We should guard against reducing Christmas to a single day. Every day reflects the truth of Christmas: that God, in Christ, took on flesh. My wife and I only celebrate our anniversary once a year, but our marriage defines every moment of our lives. The same is true with Christmas. It comes around once a year, but we carry its meaning throughout the year in whatever we face.
Christmas means that each moment is now filled with His hope.
The Bible says Jesus experienced temptation like we do, yet He never sinned. He knew hunger. He grew tired. He experienced frustration. In short, He knows what it’s like to walk in our shoes, which means He is able to help us in our time of need. If He can help us in our moment-by-moment struggles, then we always have hope.
Christmas was the arrival of hope. Thirty-three years after hope came in a manger, hope hung on a cross. Which brings us back to communicators. They always pay extra attention to how they begin and end their message. Jesus Christ, the ultimate communicator, came in a manger and left on a cross to remind us the meaning of this season is not found in the glitz and glamour Christmas promises to bring us, but in the God who promised to bring us Christmas.
Christmas may be significant to you and your family for any number of reasons, but Christmas means that because of Christ, tomorrow doesn’t have to be the same as today. Your future doesn’t have to be the same as your past. Your eternal destiny can be better than your present reality.
And it’s all because Christmas was the moment God gave himself.