Many people celebrate Christmas. It’s become a widely enjoyed holiday observed by millions with gift-giving, family gatherings, and special music. But as Christians, blessed to know Jesus personally, we rejoice with especially full hearts because we are celebrating the birth of our Lord, Savior, and King.
Christmas is much more than an event that comes around every year in December. It’s a promise made by God that was fulfilled at a point in time, with ramifications that continue throughout history and into eternity. The promise was first given immediately after Adam and Eve sinned, when God said the seed of the woman would bruise the head of Satan (Gen. 3:15). Then it was reiterated by prophets in the Old Testament and revealed by angels in the New Testament, and with each new revelation, more details regarding the promise became clear.
First, Christmas was the promise of a Savior. At God’s ordained time, an angel appeared to a virgin named Mary announcing that she would bear the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:31-32). Then the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him to take Mary as his wife and name the child Jesus because He would save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:20-21).
The name Jesus means “God is salvation” and signifies the purpose for which this child came—to be our Savior. After His birth, an angel announced His arrival to a group of shepherds saying, “Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). The titles of Christ and Lord point to the fact that this was no ordinary baby. He was not only the Savior and Israel’s Messiah but the Lord God.
Second, Christmas was the promise of the incarnation. Without the incarnation, there would be no Savior and no salvation for anyone. This was a unique and miraculous event in history in which the eternal Son of God entered into humanity, being conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin (vv. 1:31-32). Isaiah prophesied His birth seven hundred years earlier saying that the child would be called Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:22-23).
Although the Lord had been with Israel in a cloud and pillar of fire after their exodus from Egypt and had dwelt among them in the tabernacle and later in the temple, the incarnation was a totally new arrangement wherein God took up residence in human flesh and lived among mankind.
The incarnation was an amazing display of God’s power as the fullness of deity was condensed into human flesh without consuming it. It’s a miracle beyond our comprehension that an almighty, infinite, unchanging God could enter into a weak, finite human body. Although His conception was miraculous, this baby was born and grew up like any other child with one big difference—He was fully human, fully God, and perfectly sinless.
What we must understand is that the incarnation was the only way to rescue humanity from the condemnation of sin. The Savior had to be fully human and a descendent of Adam yet without the sin that entered the human race through Adam (Rom. 5:12). Therefore, the Savior had to be the seed of the woman, born of a virgin. Furthermore, He had to be God in order to live a life of sinless obedience and bear the eternal punishment for mankind’s sin on the cross. Jesus Christ is the only one who fulfilled all these requirements to become “God with us.”
Finally, Christmas is the promise of God’s presence with us forever. Even though Jesus finished His redemptive work of salvation with His death, resurrection, and ascension, He is still with His people today through the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit. All of us who have believed the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ have been “sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” as a guarantee of our future heavenly inheritance and glorification (Eph. 1:13-14).
Christ is always with those who belong to Him, and nothing can ever separate us from His love (Rom. 8:35-39). What amazing security, confidence, and peace this brings into our lives. Wherever we are, whatever we do, God is with us giving truth, guidance, correction, forgiveness, and comfort. The more aware we are of His life-giving presence and the fulfillment of His promise, the more our hearts overflow with praise and worship—and that’s what makes Christmas so special.
As you celebrate this season, may you be filled with genuine happiness: at the Christmas tree that reminds us of the tree Jesus died upon to save us from eternal punishment, at the gifts that remind us of the greatest gift of all—the Savior, and at the lights that remind us of the true Light that came to give eternal life to everyone who believes. And let’s join our brothers and sisters everywhere in adoration and gratitude for His great love in coming into the world for our salvation.
Charles F. Stanley
P.S. I’d like to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas. Of all the people on earth who celebrate Christmas, believers have the most joy since we know the One who loved us enough to leave the glories of heaven, take up residence in frail humanity, and die in order to rescue us from sin and judgment.