Historians tell us that the earliest believers celebrated Easter, not necessarily Christmas. My own limited research corroborates that. And each Sunday, we meet on the first day of the week in celebration in recognition of the risen Savior.
It is not, however a reason for us to ignore the birth of Christ. Matthew and Luke both share details surrounding the miraculous birth. Angels were all over the arrival of God in the flesh. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds –all were recipients of angelic announcements. Mattthew wrote:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. (19) Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. (20) But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (21) And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (22) Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, (23) Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (24) Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: (25) And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. (Matthew 1:18-25)
Certainly the birth of Christ was prominent in the Gospels, and in the New Testament. Paul wrote in Galatians 4:4-5 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (5) To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
What does that mean for us today? Every December 25th, the world recognizes the birth of Christ. For many this is “the most wonderful time of the year.” For others, Christmas is only another day off from work, and for many, an excuse for excess. For years, the world has tried to take Christ out of Christmas. But this is not a recent problem, nor is it an American problem. One pastor wrote:
“In Ireland, children often put out Christmas sacks instead of stockings. It is tradition to leave mince pies and a bottle of Guinness out as a snack for Santa.”
“In SPAIN, Papa Noel delivers his presents by climbing up balconies. On January 6, the three wise men come to visit and also leave gifts for the children.”
“In ITALY, on the evening of the day after Christmas, children are visited by a good witch named La Befana. She flies around Italy on a broom and leaves treats for good children and coal for naughty children.”
Too often both here and around the world, these other characters have more significance than the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
But whether people choose to acknowledge Jesus as the “Reason for the Season” or not, by their participation in their Christmas festivities – whether it is in the giving of gifts, the tree, the presents, or in the parties they attend – the fact that they participate in any way, shows all of us that December 25th is a significant date. The truth us, all these point out that the birth of Jesus Christ was and is a very, very big deal.
It is impossible to get away from it. Our calendars are dated by the birth of Christ. The reminder of Jesus’ birth is everywhere. It is on your calendar, on your watch, on your birth certificate.
Even the unbeliever must submit to this dating system – it’s on his driver’s license, his social security is directly connected to it, and it will one day be on his grave – the year he was born and the year he died…all dated to the birth of Christ.
And one final thing for those who like to ruin the spirit of Christmas by saying, “no one knows for certain what day Jesus was born,” I would like to say to them like Scrooge said, “Bah, humbug!” They completely miss the point!
The point is that He was born. We celebrate the incarnation. Jesus came as God in the flesh. He identified with us, lived before us, died in our place and rose again to live forevermore!
Now before we were saved, we celebrated Christmas because our families did, we got presents when we were little, we had Christmas parties at school, we watched “Rudolph” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas; we sang “Jingle Bells” and “Here Comes Santa Claus” and we got a day or two off work….and all the commercials!!! Christmas is a happy tradition for most people before they are truly saved.
But after we come to Christ, Christmas becomes personal. Jesus came for me. He died for me. May I encourage you to make Jesus coming in the flesh very personal to you this Christmas. Center your worship on Him. Make Him the focus of your family’s Christmas celebrations. The point of Christmas is, Jesus was born!