It’s that time of year again. Have you pulled your 27 linear-miles of Christmas lights out of the attic? Are you emotionally prepared for impending forced family time? Have you mastered the jiu jitsu moves that will incapacitate your opponent if there’s only one remote-control BB-8 Droid left on the shelf at Target? (“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for! Submit! SUBMIT!)
Okay, I’m (mostly) kidding. The Christmas season is wonderful. It’s great to gather with family and friends for feasting, gift giving and memory making. But if we lose sight of the radiant heart of Christmas, the season can devolve into a few weeks that are especially saturated in stress and materialism.
In the face of these distractions, a muttered, “Jesus is the reason for the season…” in line at the Honey Baked Ham Co. won’t cut it. God’s word is full of promises and reminders for the Advent season, but it’s crucial that we store them in our hearts and intentionally meditate on them.
So why exactly, according to scripture, is Christmas worth celebrating? Let’s look at just a few of the reasons…
At Christmas, Jesus solves our biggest problem
The book of Job was written more than 2,500 years ago. We might not have much in common with Job, culturally speaking, but in Job 9, he poses a question that is central to the human experience:
“How can a man be in the right before God? [He] does great things beyond searching out. He passes by me, and I see him not. How then can I answer him? For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him. There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both.” (Job 9:2, 10-11, 32-33)
When we encounter the holy God of the Bible, and see our own weakness, inconsistency and sin by comparison, there’s no denying that a massive chasm exists between us and him. Left to our own devices, this divide would be eternally bad news for us.
But on Christmas, we celebrate the Hero who invaded our situation to restore us to good relationship with God. Jesus is the only one who can “lay his hand on us both” and bring us to the Father in righteousness and hope. The Bible never promises that we won’t experience troubles in this life, but we can be confident that, in Christ, God has definitively solved our biggest problem.
Because Jesus came as a human and accomplished everything necessary for our reconciliation, nothing can ever separate his people from the love of God.
At Christmas, Jesus proves he’s our perfect mediator
Christianity stands alone as the only worldview that presents a God who is transcendent AND who perfectly identifies with us in our suffering. At Christmas, we not only celebrate the One who came to save us from our sin, but also the One who has experienced the troubles and temptations we face, and thus can intimately support us during times of trial:
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:14-16)
Anyone who has been through intense suffering knows that all the philosophical examination in the world doesn’t help much in the midst of pain. We need someone who is with us in our suffering, who knows what we’re going through, mourns with us and helps us see the light at the end of the tunnel. Jesus came into the world to be our supreme companion and encouragement even in the midst of sorrows.
At Christmas, Jesus sets the example and motivation for a life of sacrificial love
We live in a world where power is prized, weakness is discouraged and failure is mocked. Yet the Hero of our faith accomplished his mission through humility, sacrificial service and what looked to the world like failure. He was born to poor parents in a dark, cold manger. “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Isa. 53:2). He never travelled more than a few miles from his hometown, and he died shamefully on a cross. But in so doing he proved to be our Savior and King:
“Though he was in the form of God, [he] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Phil 2:6-9)
The beginning of Philippians 2 exhorts those who are followers of Christ to “have the same mind,” to follow Jesus’s example. For the Christian, strength is expressed through sacrificial service, humility and love overcame worldly powers, and victory is found in the resurrection that comes on the other side of death. Such an exhortation might prove especially pertinent when the in-laws come to town.
Amidst all the hubbub and tinsel, it can be easy to lose sight of what Christmas is about. And that would be a great sorrow. When we see Jesus, the Holy Hero who came to save us, the High Priest who sticks close to us in our suffering, and the Sacrificial Servant who empowers us to live a life of beautiful humility, we find the circumstance-overcoming joy that God has blessed us with.
Will you cling to that joy this Advent season? Will you share it with others?