For many people the Christmas holiday is the yearly scandalous disappointment. The reason for this is because, for many, the Christmas season is this sort of annual hoax that things will finally get better but never actually do.
For millions of people Christmas is filled with these fantasy-fueled expectations that the “Christmas spirit” (whatever that is) will somehow bring them the happiness they’ve always wanted but never actually experienced.
And every year, the outcome is exactly the same: Nothing. Ever. Changes.
"For so many Americans [Christ is] nothing more than Santa’s twin, a tribal deity, a seasonal good luck charm who will give people what they really want."
Not really, anyway. You see, the false myth of Christmas that people buy into is that if they can get it to look like the whimsical fairy tale expectations in their minds, that maybe, just maybe, they can somehow force the fantasy to become reality. That maybe this year things will change!
And yet, when December 26th rolls around, people are left with the mess of open presents and the mess of their lives still there and the reason why nothing is different is because the Christ in whom they believe never got out of the manger. The reason why they were double-crossed again by Christmas is because the Christ in whom they hoped is not the infinite God who invaded the planet as a human being. He’s not the Lamb of God slain for ruined sinners to save them from eternal woe and despair.
For so many (even sometimes in the church), nothing actually changes on December 26th because for them, Christ is nothing more than a means to getting what they really want…and it’s not Him. For so many Americans He’s nothing more than Santa’s twin, a tribal deity, a seasonal good luck charm who will give people what they really want if they just jump through the right hoops.
And yet, a Child though He was, He didn’t stay a Child, but instead lived a life and died a death of infinite significance—not to mention conquering the grave three days later!
Buddy the elf in the Christmas movie “Elf” said: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loudly for all to hear.” I suppose that depends on the song, but really, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing the Incarnation for all to hear.
Here are three wonders of the Incarnation (i.e., when God became a man) from John 1:1.
Wonder #1: “In the beginning was the Word…” That is, Jesus Christ, who John calls “the Word” never had a beginning. That is, He is eternal! Sure, He was born as a human, but in truth—He never began to exist, because He always and forever existed before the foundation of the world. The Savior in whom you believe is an eternal, uncaused Savior who eternally existed before time even began!
Wonder #2: “…and the Word was with God…” And there it is—mystery of mysteries! Although God is God alone…we see here that He was not alone. Although God is one we see that He is more than one. Because for all eternity the Word (i.e., Jesus Christ) was with God for all eternity. Think of it—God and God (cf. Psalm 45:6-7; Psalm 110:1), Father and Son, eternally pre-existing together forever before time.
And what were the Persons of the Trinity doing for all eternity? The Bible is clear: they were conspiring together to pull off the greatest rescue mission in history designed to save hell-deserving sinners from every nation like you and me!
Wonder #3: “…and the Word was God.” Not only was the Word eternal; not only was He eternally with God forever and ever…but the Word Himself was God Himself! He wasn’t just a prophet! Wasn’t merely a Rabbi! He was not only a man—no, He was something infinitely more.
Don’t misunderstand, Jesus was not some phantom—He was fully man—living, breathing, feeling, experiencing! If you cut Him, He would bleed. If you crucified Him, He would die, but the infinite difference between Him and every other human being is that this human being was God!
You see, that is Christmas: God, without ever ceasing to be fully God, became fully man to save sinners from what they most deserve and give them what they least deserve. That is the Incarnation and that is the wonder of wonders!
"Christ came not to put presents under a tree, but that He entered into the hay and manure of a broken world in desperate need of fixing."
So, do you not feel the urgent missionary opportunity that Christmas brings? Let’s tell the world with unblushing clarity and conviction that Christ came not to put presents under a tree, but that He entered into the hay and manure of a broken world in desperate need of fixing. Let us make it plain in our homes and to the world that Christmas is not a fantastical birthday party for a tribal deity, but the celebration of when God came to earth as a man.
Because while there’s nothing in the Bible that says we have to celebrate Christmas, if we’re going to do it, let’s do it right! And so, let's make Christ, and all that He is, the centerpiece of our lives. Because that’s not only the meaning and goal of Christmas—that’s the meaning and goal of life itself!