Christmas - Its Meaning Today
It's that time of year again! There is a 'buzz' permeating
the crowds of shoppers in the town - decorations are being put up, presents
bought, cards sent - it's Christmas. The time of year when the birth of Jesus is celebrated.
Or is it? How many of us think of the birth of Jesus and fully appreciate the meaning behind it when we decorate the Christmas tree, write our cards, exchange our gifts?
A lot of what we do, we do 'in memory' of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus although it has to be said that a large number of festive traditions are of pagan origins. It can be shown that Jesus was not born on the 25th of December, but that he was born there is no doubt. Jesus was the Son of God and the events surrounding his birth are recorded for us in the Word of God, the Bible.
In fact, his birth was prophesied many years before he was actually born and the early writers placed great significance on the future event. They wrote of one who was to be a Saviour, a King and a Priest. He would be a man of humility, a man who was prepared to die in order to save people from the consequence of their sins, and a man who would rule as King over a restored earth. He was to be the Son of God.
How many of us, I wonder then, really think of the significance of Jesus' birth at this time of year?
We give gifts - as did the wise men. We sing praises to God - as did the angels. In thought, at least, we visit Bethlehem as the shepherds visited in person all those years ago. But why was Jesus born? Does his birth have any meaning today?
To find an answer to such questions we have to go back to the beginning - to the book of Genesis. God created Adam and, as we know, gave him a choice:
Adam chose to disobey God and the punishment for his disobedience was to be death. From that moment on, he was under sentence of death. Adam became mortal, a dying creature, and because all men and women are descended from Adam, all have inherited the same sinful nature and all are under sentence of death.
"As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; ...so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." (Romans 5:12)
When Adam disobeyed God and was punished by death, that
could have been the end of the matter, but God "is not willing that any
should perish" (2 Peter 3:9) and has "no pleasure in the death of
him that dieth" (Ezekiel 18:32) so He offered a means whereby we could
escape from death and the grave.
God gave us a Saviour - a man who obeyed Him in all things and who was prepared to offer himself as a perfect sacrifice for sin. His Son.
After disobeying God, Adam became aware of his shame and nakedness and attempted to cover himself with fig leaves, but God provided him instead with a covering of animal skins. In order to do so, animals had to be killed. Life had to be taken and blood had to be shed and this theme of blood being shed, of a sacrifice being made, to provide a 'covering' for sin runs right through Scripture.
The Israelites were instructed in the giving of such sacrifices and great emphasis was placed on the fact that the sacrificial animals had to be "without blemish", perfect. But they also had to learn that such sacrifices were allegorical. The sacrificing of the animals served to remind the Israelites of their sinful nature and the need for forgiveness from God - forgiveness which could only be provided for by a perfect sacrifice.
Jesus was that sacrifice. Jesus was born in order to die.
"For as by one man's disobedience [Adam] many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Jesus] shall many be made righteous." (Romans 5:19)
All his life Jesus fought against sin. "In all points tempted...as
we are" (Hebrews 4:15) he did not succumb but overcame his natural
propensity to disobey God and instead led a life "without sin" and in complete
obedience to God.
"Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3) having been "delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God...crucified and put to death." (Romans 2:23)
But God raised him up, "having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be held by it." (Acts 2:24)
Jesus was raised from the dead because he led a life free from sin; he was the perfect sacrifice, the covering for our sin and, as a consequence of being 'covered', we can be accounted righteous and given life again after death.
"For since by man [Adam] came death, by man [Jesus] came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
(1 Corinthians 15:21-22)
The birth of Jesus, therefore, and its meaning today?
It is the same as it was over 2000 years ago - "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). He was born in order to die so that we may live.
"And the angel said unto [the shepherds], Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)
The message of the Bible is still relevant today, the best way to find out more is to read it for yourself. We have a FREE Learn to Read the Bible Effectively Course which we hope will help you to do this.