During this festive time of the year, you will often hear adults make the remark that “Christmas is really all about the kids.”
It’s really easy to get swept away in the traditions and festivities only to realize that there really isn’t much genuine celebration happening. This is true especially when it comes to financial stress in order to get the right present or the right number of presents for the children.
Are you a Christian? Why is the world dictating to you the rules of Christmas? Why are you so unhappy during this season of celebration? Could it be that Christmas isn’t really all about the kids after all?
Advent: The Coming of the King
The word advent means coming. Typically arranged during the four weeks prior to Christmas, Christians around the world remember the time when the people of God were living in true anticipation of the coming of their King. The four weeks of celebration is a reminder that God’s promises are true and that the long-awaited King of glory—prophesied by Isaiah (see Is. 7:14; 9:6) came just as it was foretold some 700 years before his birth! John writes with poetic excellence and gospel hope:
John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
I recently read a story about a little seven year old boy who woke up his father early in December in a panic on a Saturday morning. He was worried that their family would not have any meaningful Christmas at all because their inflatable of Frosty the Snow Man was in the garage with a hole that needed to be patched. He said, “Dad, wake up, we have to get Frosty in fixed. It’s Christmas time.” For the little boy’s brief life, he had only been taught that at Christmas the family puts up a cheap inflatable in order to properly celebrate. How is the world changing the way you celebrate Christmas? Are you distracted so much that advent isn’t something you even put an emphasis upon?
Incarnation: God in Human Flesh
It may come as a shock to you, but atheists celebrate Christmas too. As you walk through shopping malls looking for that hot ticket item, people who reject God and claim to believe that there is no God at all will be standing in line with their children to get their annual picture with Santa, competing with you to find that special gift, and just enjoying the festive music and seasonal décor all throughout the shopping mall.
During the Christmas season, the world is caught up in myths that center on elves who never seem to sit still on shelves, flying reindeer, and a jolly old man who knows more than anyone else and will reward kids based on their morality—“so you better be good for goodness sake.”
Have you paused recently to quietly read Luke 2 and consider that God became a man? What story of an elf or a bearded man with a magical bag of presents could compete with the story of the incarnation?
When you pause and consider the reality that God, the Creator of the heavens, the Creator of the earth, the high Sovereign and exalted King of glory, entered a young woman’s womb and was born in the likeness of men is absolutely beyond anything the world has ever seen or heard. The miracle of the incarnation is the purpose of Christmas celebrations. Far superseding any super hero movie plot and far superior to any drama series on television, and far more amazing than any message you could read in any other book is the message of Jesus’ birth.
Salvation: The Real Gift of Christmas
What did you get your kids for Christmas last year? Do they even remember it? How long did they play with it? How long did it satisfy them? You know the drill, right? You spend lots of money and time to buy things that really never come close to satisfying the hearts of your kids.
Christmas is not all about the kids. In fact, it’s not all about the presents either. No gift lasts forever, right? Well, actually there is a gift that lasts forever and if we emphasized that gift at Christmas we would have true and meaningful celebrations with our families.
Jesus was born in order that he would become the sacrifice for our sin. He would be the sin offering to the Father—literally taking away our sin. Listen to what 1 Peter 2:24 says:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
The hymn writer Charles Wesley, in his famous Christmas carol, “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” described the purpose of Jesus’ birth by writing:
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the son of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King !”
The real purpose behind the birth of Jesus was his saving mission that would culminate on the Roman cross where he would lay down his life for his people. As atheists stand in line to get their children’s annual picture with Santa, Wesley’s carol is played over the speakers and they mumble the words although they refuse to believe. They embrace Wesley’s song much like they do Santa—without any real belief—after all, it’s Christmas.
Certainly there is more to Christmas than a fruitcake and mystical stories that have no real meaning. This is why the church of Jesus Christ should take the lead in the celebration of Jesus’ birth. If you strip away Christmas trees, candy canes, festive lights, decorative wreaths, chocolate, mistletoe, gifts and gift exchanges, hot cider, eggnog, silver bells, jingle bells, festive music, Santa Claus, reindeer, shopping malls, and elves—Christians can still have a true and meaningful Christmas because Jesus’ birth is what we celebrate and his gift of salvation is one that endures with great satisfaction for all of eternity.
Christmas is not all about the kids—it’s all about Jesus, and your kids desperately need to know it. I’m not arguing that you should abandon all celebrations during the Christmas season. Not at all. I’m actually making the point that as a Christian your celebration should be far more meaningful and filled with satisfaction.
Matthew 1:21 – She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.