Christmas among Christians is a surprisingly controversial issue. Some Christians have no scruples celebrating it while others either don’t or debate about whether they should. Reasons are because Christmas replaced the pagan holiday of Saturnalia, that Christ’s birth isn’t supposed to be celebrated, etc. And still others celebrate Christmas without hardly thinking of the real reason at all.
Whatever your own view is, I’m not going to debate it. That’s not why I’m writing this. I am merely presenting my view.
I believe that Christmas should be celebrated because of the One for whom it was made. I don’t care whether you celebrate it at the usual time or not. Christmas isn’t about the time of year, though tradition has made it so. Most likely, Jesus wasn’t even born in what would have been December back in Roman times. Christmas shouldn’t be celebrated because it’s fun or because it’s nice to get presents. (Though come on, who doesn’t like getting free stuff?)
Christmas should be celebrated because it is the birth of the Savior, the Messiah come to break the curse of sin so that we might have eternal life and that the relationship between us and God that was ruined in Adam’s fall would be restored. Ironic, then, that we should celebrate the coming of the Light of the World just when the light is gone from the earth and the dark months of winter are in view.
There are so many beautiful passages of scripture that speak about this—though to be fair, the whole Bible is about God’s amazing work of redemption. But let me just highlight the few and let the words speak for themselves.
And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
~ Genesis 3:13-24
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
~ Luke 2:8-14
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
~ Revelation 21:1-7
From these passages, we begin at the beginning of the Fall, when the curse was pronounced on Adam and Eve. And yet, even in that moment of disgrace and grief, God promised that He would break the curse some day. Fast forward some four thousand years of suffering, and the Angels declare unto the shepherds, telling them not to be afraid because the Savior has been born unto them. And then, in the future yet to come, God will finally bring us Home where we will be with Him forever.
This is what Christmas is about—the rejoicing that the Messiah has come and that we can now come to God freely. This is why we should celebrate it.
I suppose this is why I love the song Behold the Lamb of God on Andrew Peterson’s newest album. You can listen to it here. It is on his latest Christmas album. All the songs are about Christ’s birth and His coming. And then at the end is a peacefully beautiful song that talks about Christ being the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, as John the Baptist declares.
Because, in the end, Christmas isn’t about the cards and the cookies and the presents and the snow. At least, it shouldn’t be our main focus.
Christmas is the reason that we have a hope. Christ is that hope, the Word made flesh that dwelt among us. And that is why we should celebrate it.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!