Christmas. This is the time of year where we are all celebrating. We are, as humans, all supposed to be cheerful, some people more than others, and more forgiving of our fellow man, and all the rest of the things that usually go along with these nice lines. This is the time of year that we, as humans, are steeped in traditions all across the range of tradition, and across the globe. But what is the true purpose of Christmas? Why do we celebrate this holiday, and what is the reason for it? Is it for Santa Claus, as many people have suggested? Is it just a time of year to be nice, so that the rest of the time we can be as grumpy as we like? This article will explain the reason for this time of celebration from a Christian perspective.
Let’s go ahead and start from the beginning, in our foundations. The reason for this holiday is actually found in Genesis. The reason began about 6,000 years ago in a garden. That is right, we are going back to the Garden of Eden. God created the world in six, twenty-four-hour days, and on the seventh day, He rested. God had also placed a tree in the garden and told Adam not to eat from it, or he would die. This death meant both spiritual death, separation from God, and physical death, which is what we experience today. Adam and Eve both disobeyed God. When they ate the fruit of that tree, they introduced death and sin into this world, which had been perfect before, marring God’s creation and condemning all mankind after them to death and judgment. But God made man a promise, and the promise was this:
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15
This promise, is the first promise of the Messiah, of Jesus, the final Adam as He is called in 1 Corinthians. This is the mercy of God, in that He gave man hope in the beginning, of one day being able to walk with Him again. He promised a savior. And this is not the only place where the Savior is prophesized to come. There are many more places in the Bible where He is promised. Let us look at some of them, and get a really good look at the whole meaning of the Christmas holiday.
The Psalms have plenty to say about Jesus, His birth, and His ministry, His death, and His resurrection. I know that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, but if you don’t include the other parts of His life too, what are we really celebrating? Babies are born every day, not that Christ was an ordinary baby, but that if you don’t include the other parts of His life on this earth, and what He has done, the celebration seems a little ingenuine, from my perspective at least.
The Psalms have plenty to say about Christ. Here is a sampling:
“I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn unto David My servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.” Psalm 89:3-4.
“I will declare the decree: The LORD hath said unto Me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” Psalm 2:7
“Also I will make him My firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.” Psalm 89:27
“Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of Thy hands.” Psalm 102:25
“The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” Psalm 110:4
“I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint: My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of My bowels.” Psalm 22:14
“For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell: neither wilt Thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” Psalm 16:10
This list goes on for quite some time, but we will end here, or we would be here, happily, all night. All of these Psalms are more promises about Christ, and His earthly ministry, including His death and resurrection. These Psalms also illustrate who Christ is, in the fact that He is the Son of God, and was there in the beginning, at the foundation of the earth, which is also stated in the New Testament in John 1:1. But there are more things that point to Christ in the Bible, and one more Old Testament book I would like to look at before moving on.
Isaiah also has a lot to say about Christ and His life and death on this earth. One of the first instances in Isaiah that you read is this:
“Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and shall call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
A few chapters later, in Isaiah chapter 9, we read this:
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:6-7
There are many more passages, including Isaiah 25:8-9, which talk about the second coming of Christ, and Isaiah 52:13-15 and connected to that one Isaiah 53:1-12, which both describe in detail the death of Christ.
And now, we get to the part that most people do know about and are celebrating. The actual coming of our Lord, when He was born. The first chapter of Matthew and Luke chapter 2 both describe this history in detail.
At Christmas, we as Christians, celebrate the birth and the fulfillment of the promise that God made to man back in Genesis 3. Because of that promise, because of the promise of God’s mercy on us, His creation, we celebrate. We are, in essence, celebrating the faithfulness of God in fulfilling His promise. For sending His Son, to die for us in the most horrible way, so that sin could be paid for, not just covered over, and we could have a life with Christ, and not have to pay for our sin ourselves. Which is something that we could never do on our own. At Christmas, we celebrate the beginning of Christ’s earthly life, and we remember what He did, becoming a man, and taking our place. And this was promised from the beginning. We do not celebrate Santa Claus or give gifts just because, or because we are following some pagan religious rite. We celebrate the promise our God gave to us, and look forward to the fulfillment of all His other promises, and to be reunited with Him. That is the true meaning of Christmas. Our God came down, and saved us, because we could not save ourselves, no matter how hard we tried. Christ lived a perfect, sinless life, and died for us so that things could be like they were in the beginning when everything was perfect before Adam and Eve sinned. In this way, Christmas, for the Christian at any rate, could be celebrated every day, being thankful for God in providing the way for us to return to Him, covered by the righteousness of His Son.