Well, it’s only a few days before Christmas; are you ready? Just what is meant by that question? How do we get ready for Christmas? To most it probably means that they have gifts selected for everyone, packages mailed, cards all written and in the mail (or email), the tree is up and the house is cleaned and decorated with all sorts of “Christmassy” things, all sorts of fattening goodies have been baked, the parts have been learned for the Christmas program, etc. And, if you don’t get sick or collapse from nervous exhaustion, you are “Ready for Christmas!”
If you watch Hallmark Christmas movies, you see a theme of getting in the “Christmas spirit,” by selecting that perfect Christmas tree, decorating the house inside and out with enough lights to shut down the power grid for the neighborhood, attending the local Christmas tree lighting, baking cookies, having hot chocolate with marshmallows, and maybe throw in ice skating at the mall. Santa Claus sometimes plays a key role and much is said about the magical things that happen at Christmas time, but seldom–if ever– is a word said about why we even have Christmas. “Christmas,” of course, means “Christ’s mass” or “Christ’s birth.” Although He was most likely born in the fall (around the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles when the shepherds would still have been out in the hills with their sheep….Lk. 2:8-20), the date of Dec. 25th was selected to celebrate His Advent. (NOTE: Some have picked Sept. 29th as the most likely date of His birth, and if you go back the normal number of days of human gestation, you arrive at Dec. 25th, which is quite intriguing since the real “miracle” of Christmas was not Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, but the conception in the womb of the virgin Mary, so maybe unknowingly we selected the best time to celebrate!–Just saying! God is the orchestrator of the details of history because it is His-story!).
Throughout history (His-story) before Jesus came there were many prophecies recorded in Scripture regarding His coming: He would be the “seed of a woman” (implying a virgin birth… Gen. 3:15; Isa. 7:14), He would be born a Jew from the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and King David; He would be born in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2); He would be despised, misunderstood and mistreated (Isa. 53:3); He would suffer crucifixion to bear the sins of the world (Psa. 22; Isa. 53); He would be crucified with wicked men and buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isa. 53:9; Mt. 27:38, 57-60); He would rise from the dead (Psa. 16:10; Isa. 53:10). There are more than 300 such prophecies about the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ which were fulfilled in detail. The probability of that happening is basically zero–unless, of course that person is God Himself, the writer of His-story. And He was, He was–and is–“Immanuel, God with us” (Isa. 7:14 cf Mt. 1:23).
The Jews had all these prophecies in the Scriptures they studied, and yet most of them were “not ready for Christmas.” They were more concerned about someone to deliver them from Roman oppression than about the need for forgiveness of sin. Oh, Jesus is the “King of Kings” and will one day rule over the earth, but He came the first time to be our Savior, to suffer and die for our sins (Lk. 19:10). That was all part of His-story. His own people, with the exception of a handful, rejected Him (Jn. 1:11) and ended up arresting Him, falsely accusing Him, and turning Him over to the Romans for crucifixion. Even Pilate, before whom He appeared during the trials, knew He was innocent. The only charge against Him was that He claimed to be God! He was–He was the “God-Man,” fully God and fully man. He had to be in order to die in our place to pay the penalty for our sins (II Cor. 5:21).
So, Christmas is not about all the lights and decorations, baking, family get-togethers, programs, music or gift giving. It is about Jesus, who created this earth (Jn. 1:1-3), coming to be born here so He could live a perfect life and then as the “Spotless Lamb of God” be sacrificed in our place to pay the penalty for our sins so that if we put our trust in Him, we can have eternal life. “For God so loved the world (you and me), that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!” God gave us Christmas. It wasn’t something man schemed up for another holiday celebration and a ploy by businesses and card companies to make a big profit before the year’s end.
The majority of the world wasn’t ready for the first Christmas and sadly the majority of people still aren’t ready. They focus on all the festivities and gift giving and family time (all good things) but miss the real meaning. Jesus really is the “reason for the season.” It’s not the presents under the tree that matter, it is the presence of the One on the tree! “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree (cross), that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed (restored spiritually)” (I Pet. 2:24).
So, are you ready for Christmas? Have you accepted God’s “Gift,” Jesus Christ? If not, admit your sinfulness, and put your faith in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection for you. And, you will be “ready for Christmas” (and for eternity future…) “God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life…” (I Jn. 5:11,12).
Have a joyous Christmas, celebrating His Coming