On this day we recognize Your miraculous birth dear Jesus, truly a gift we can never repay, nor are we expected to, but let us bring an offering to you this Christmas, not one of gold, frankincense, or myrrh, but one of obedience and sacrifice. May each one of us lay our lives at Your feet in total submission to You our King, our Messiah, Our Savior. You are worthy and greatly to be praised!
The Gospel of Luke chapter 2 is a familiar passage that provides a wonderful, detailed account of Jesus’ birth. In the middle of this description is a declaration by an Angel of Lord that states the purpose for not only the entire Bible, but for Christ’s reason for being born. “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'” Luke 2:10-11 ESV During this time of year, we allow our thinking to confine Jesus to a baby in a manager alongside His faithful mother Mary and stepfather Joseph, and too often we lose sight of the truths provided by the angelic messenger of God. The angel brought good news of great joy to all people. The Greek word here for good news should be familiar to us, it’s euaggelizo as we’ve discussed here before it means “to bring good news” or “to announce glad tidings” and it’s where we get the English equivalent to preach or evangelize the Gospel, or good news. The apostle Paul uses this same Greek word in Romans 10:15 NKJV, “And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” The King James has a great translation here because it shows the usage of this word euaggelizo twice, “the gospel of peace” and “glad tidings.”
But what is this good news that the angel is speaking of at the birth of Christ and just how is it supposed to bring great joy to all men? Here is where we must not allow our minds to confine Jesus to a child, instead realize this is God incarnate and recognize the foreshadowing that the angel is providing as he continues his message in verse 11 and pronounces the arrival of a Savior, Christ the Lord. Think about how significant this is, that Christ was born to die for our sins. (John 3:17) It wasn’t tragic circumstances or something unfortunate; this was the original plan, for Him to die for us. The angel of the Lord pronounced that at His birth with the statement “a Savior is born.” Prophets of old declared this would be so as we read of His birth in Isaiah 9:6 and of His death in Isaiah 53:10. Christ came to this earth with the sole purpose of dying for your sins and mine. How can this not be good news? This is the great joy that the angel speaks of. This good news is that a Savior has come to not only take away the burden of our sins, but to impute His righteousness on us (Romans 3:22) and through this divert, or propitiate (Romans 3:25), the wrath of God from us to Him. This is so much more than memorizing John 3:16 and reciting it in “ho-hum” fashion. God sent His Son Jesus into the world to take the sins of the world on Him and then to die for those sins so that we might live if we only believe. That’s love! How can we not trust in a Savior that did that for us?
Each of us knows that death is a reality. But do we every really think that we are born with the purpose of dying? Add to that the amazing truth that Christ took on the sins of the world those before his death and after and you get just a glimmer of how amazing this transaction was for us. II Corinthians 5:21 ESV says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Who made Jesus to be sin? God did. God sent him to earth to be sin for us, even though He was pure and sinless, so that if we believe and trust Jesus as Savior we might have the righteousness of God in Him. Meaning literally that if we trust Christ we will be able to stand at judgment before a Holy God, not because of our own righteousness or anything that we’ve done, but because of the righteousness through Jesus, so that at that judgment we shall be declared not guilty of our sins. Do you realize what good news this is? This is truly the greatest gift of all and that is exactly what Christmas is all about: Behold good news of great joy! A Savior is born, Christ the Lord.
Growing up in a Christian family, we always referred to Jesus’ birthday as Christmas. I was taught that anything contrary to that, specifically Xmas, was an attempt to remove Christ from His proper place. We’ve all seen shopping ads, movies, cards, etc. that say Merry Xmas or the like, instead of Christmas. You might remember a few years ago there was a major push by the retail industry to remove Christmas altogether in favor of the more politically correct Happy Holidays, which was deemed less offensive to other religions, Islam, traditional Judaism, atheism, etc. This isn’t a new argument, as it seems every year we hear how “Christ is being taken out of Christmas.”
Add to this the explosion of social media, Twitter, Facebook, etc., not to mention the texting craze, and there is an ever present usage of Xmas in order to save character space or too avoid typing out the word Christmas. In addition to this, Christ professing believers are also becoming more prone to the use of Xmas and justify its usage based on the Greek letter Chi or “X”, the first letter of Christ in the Greek, which also corresponds to the first letter in Xmas. In fact, some proponents for Xmas usage might even argue that this abbreviation dates back 1000 years, before there were malls, advertisements, or any attempt by the media to push for political correctness. My problem with any usage of the word is multifaceted so allow me to elaborate.
Let’s observe what’s going on in today’s society. First, there are non-believers who are attempting to actually remove the usage of Christmas because it’s not politically correct and might be determined offensive. An example of this would be the omission of the word Christmas from the entire 2009 Macy’s Christmas catalog. Several other recent examples include, but are not limited to, multiple firefighter departments being asked to remove Merry Christmas signs. Next we have those, who in an attempt to be cool or slick with character usage have saved at least 3 seconds off of texting time and 5 (Christmas – Christ + X = 5, for you math majors) characters off of any Tweets, a fascinating display of efficiency. Finally, there are those Christians who are quite simply too smart for their own good, in using Xmas because of the ancient Greek alphabet. So I ask, how is one to determine through the usage of this word, whether it is out of suppression of the knowledge of God, as Romans 1:21 teaches, whether it is out of carelessness (or laziness), or whether the intent is to prove a more profound knowledge of Greek linguistics? The answer is there is no difference. Intentional or not, this is a suppression of Christ.
This post isn’t just about keeping Christ in Christmas, it’s about professing the name Jesus all year long and proclaiming His miraculous, prophecy fulfilling birth as a symbol of hope that a Messiah was born with the sole purpose of dying for our sins, yours and mine. The world wants to destroy as many reminders as they can about Christ, whether it it is placing emphasis on commercialism and Santa during Christmas or calling it Xmas, removing In God We Trust from our currency and federal buildings, or declaring it hate speech to proselytize and attempt to convert non-believers to Christianity. Maybe I was raised too old school and not “relevant” enough by today’s standards, but my Bible says “we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (I Corinthians 1:23 ESV) so Christ will be a stumbling block and I know that His name causes division (Matthew 10:34-39) therefore I will all the more proudly proclaim the name of Christ not just on the day we recognize His birth, but everyday of the year. Ask yourself this the next time you’re tempted to label those decoration boxes Xmas or you want to text Merry Xmas to your friends, does it align with Colossians 3:17 ESV, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
18For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. I Corinthians 1:18-25 ESV