Why Do We Celebrate Christmas?
Is Christmas about giving gifts? Receiving gifts? Santa Claus and Elves?
Santa Claus isn't all fiction. Actually, his character is a recent rendition of the historical Saint Nicholas; in fact, many people still celebrate “St. Nicholas Day” or “Santa Nicolas,” just like many Westerners celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, as something separate from Christmas. Elves and the North Pole are commercial updates to the story of a historic individual from the 4th century, who apparently was raised wealthy but cultivated a habit of giving secret gifts. Legend has it that he once felt compassion for three daughters with no dowry, who as a result, were about to be sold into prostitution. He slipped gold coins into their home in secret, so they could have a dowry and marry instead. He also was said to secretly leave coins in shoes put out for him. Nicholas became a bishop and was later venerated as a saint in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.
Sadly, the celebration of Nicholas' life, widely practiced on the 6th of December, has evolved in popular culture into a replacement for the celebration of the ultimate gift and a secular alternative for the true meaning of Christmas, especially in the Americas.
The fact of the matter is this: the true reason Christians celebrate Christmas is as a time of celebration of the incarnation of God through his son, Emmanuel ("God with us"). The date of December 25 has no relevance to the subject of celebration.
Jesus was long sought, the Messiah king, the Savior of the Hebrew nation. He was to deliver them from their bondage and sin; however, many of their hearts were dark and did not recognize their promised Savior. There were many prophecies that were documented in the Holy Scriptures about the coming of the Christ. Jesus was the ultimate gift, an ultimate sacrifice. One man capable of being the greatest hope for mankind.
Christmas is the celebration of something greater then a holiday. It's about the glory of God and the hope of all mankind! God, the creator and sustainer of all, who subjects all things to himself, humbled himself as a servant and became a propitiation--a wrath-absorbing and -deflecting sacrifice--for us, even on a shameful cross, so that we might be right with a God that expects absolute perfection and absolute justice. Of course, perfection and the ability to please God is an impossible task for man or woman alike. This is a big difference between true Christianity and any other religion.
Christmas is about hope. Hope, not in the grace of others to give gifts, but hope that we can be saved from the ultimate predicament. We are incapable of reconciling ourselves to God because we broke his law. All you need is to break one commandment; break just one, I submit, and you are accountable for them all (James 2:10). The justice of God is over all of us because we all sin, but through his grace, he became a man and lived a perfect life for us. Jesus took on our guilt and stood in our place before the Father. God the Father crushed his Son, who suffered the full punishment due us. He rose from the dead on the third day, proving God's justice had been satisfied, and rose to heaven glorified. He is our king, priest and Savior. He is our God and our righteousness.
His sacrifice is for everyone who believes. Look to Christ this Christmas! Repent and believe the good news.
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