For many people, Christmas is a time to spend with family and friends, to exchange gifts, and to give something of yourself. It’s a time of warm memories, Santa Claus, and helping others. Indeed, this is the message in practically every Christmas movie. It all sounds so…wonderful! While all those things tug at our heartstrings and tend to make us feel good, is that what the Bible teaches us about Christmas?
Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with these things. But, let’s face it, the world wants us to feel good about ourselves, so we should not be surprised that this is the world’s Christmas message. Christmas, however, is about NONE of those things. The Biblical message of Christmas is…much, much better.
Because God became a man in Jesus, the Bible tells believers to rejoice; and not just rejoice, but rejoice always! As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, it’s worth examining why we should rejoice.
“1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” (Ephesians 2)
We don’t like to think of ourselves as being spiritually dead, doing the bidding of the devil, and being labeled as a child of wrath. That just does not inflate one’s self esteem! But Scripture doesn’t hold back when God’s word describes our true nature. So why rejoice? Ephesians 2 continues:
“4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
It’s been said that the word “but” is the best word in the Bible, and that may be true. Despite our sin and being deserving of punishment, because of God’s great mercy and love He saved us. He showed us this kindness in His Son, Jesus. That’s a great reason to rejoice always!
“12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned… 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners.” (Romans 5) Rejoice? Absolutely: “8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life… 19b even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5)
“9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6) Were you ever guilty of one of these sins? Are you unrighteous? What’s to rejoice about? Read on in 1 Corinthians: “11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
“10 as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” 13 “Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving,” “The poison of asps is under their lips”; 14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”; 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood, 16 Destruction and misery are in their paths, 17 And the path of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Pretty all encompassing, no? What’s to rejoice? Romans 8: “1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
So, while we are all deserving of death because of our great sin against God, because God became a man in Christ Jesus, we have been saved from the wrath of God. This is truly good news, and it is the real message of Christmas: redemption in the God of the universe, Jesus Christ. Therefore, “4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4) Indeed, this is God’s will for us: “16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5)
May we rejoice in Christ at Christmas – and always. For it is He who said, "Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven." (Luke 10:20)