Christ is in Christmas
In the flurry of what’s proven to be a topsy turvy year, it is all too easy to get caught up in whatever the world’s media is pumping and leave Christ out of His own celebration. While gift giving and decorated celebrations are good fun, at best they are superficial and short lived. More than ever, it’s easy to be distracted and give only momentary recognition of Jesus’ significance at Christmas time.
Looking at Matthew chapter 1, we learn from Joseph on the matter of Christmas focus and priority. It was only months before the first Christmas, and Joseph had only just discovered that his fiancé (Mary) was pregnant, but not to him. Having reasoned through the distasteful situation he found himself in, Joseph decided to break away from Mary through a discrete divorce from their betrothal (engagement) period. Joseph, no doubt feeling betrayed and emotionally bruised, thought he could walk away and make a fresh start elsewhere. But that was not God’s plan for either Joseph or Mary.
Unexpectedly, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).
What startling news! Nothing in his life had prepared Joseph for such a revelation. God the Holy Spirit was responsible for Mary’s pregnancy, which meant the child would be God’s child, and not Josephs’. What’s more, the child was to be a boy with a divinely predetermined name, Jesus. I imagine Joseph felt quite overwhelmed when he awoke. However, the most gripping piece of information was not the immaculate conception, and it was not the fact of a soon to arrive pre-named son. No, it was that this baby boy would somehow save his people from their sins. How could Joseph comprehend such an out-of-this-world idea.
Jesus would become the Saviour of sinners, and those sinners would not want to be saved from their sin initially. The very people who were dead in their sin, detached from God, disinterested in God, and happily living in ignorant darkness of coming judgement, would somehow get rescued by Jesus. What was Joseph to think of this?
Well, as we know, God’s Word tells us that Jesus did precisely what the angel said He would. For all who received Jesus by faith, who believed in his name, he (Jesus) gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12). To these believers in Jesus, explains Paul, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:13-14). 1 Peter 2:24 adds that Jesus bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness. Sin would no longer govern the lives of those who believed in Jesus.
God became a man; Jesus is His name. He stands alone as the only human child ever born of a virgin, truly the Son of God and the Son of man. This child came for the purpose of doing His Heavenly Father’s will on the Cross, delivering a death blow to the power of sin over mankind for all who would ever believe. This is the Jesus we celebrate at Christmas.
I’m signing off ‘The Pastor’s Pen’ for 2021, and I look forward to joining you again in 2022. May we all speak well of Christ and His gospel as we wait for our Lord’s return.