Why do we celebrate Christmas? Sure, it's great to get together with friends and family for a big day of feasting, football, and giving presents to one another.
At the Rock Church, we say Jesus is the Reason for the Season, but what does that mean? Is it just a catchy rhyme? Why is His birthday celebrated, even by those who are simply following an age-old tradition?
For those that know Him, celebrating Jesus' birthday is far more than tradition.
1. Jesus was born to fulfill promises and prophecies to Israel for a Messiah.Jesus' birth fulfilled over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament and blessed the entire world.
In Matthew 1:1, we are given the genealogy (ancestors) of Christ and see that He was the Son of Abraham and the Son of David (Matthew 1:17), two requirements for the Jewish Messiah set forth in the Old Testament. This genealogy was written to prove to the Jews that Jesus was the fulfillment of the OT prophecies.
He was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:18-23) in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2 and Matthew 2:1-2). We've heard this so many times we take it for granted, but consider that Mary was a teenage girl of 17.
In Mary's day, childbirth outside of wedlock was a grave offense, literally. Even with Joseph as her protector, consider what her life would have been like. If a girl told you today that she became pregnant but was still a virgin, would you believe her?
God certainly didn't make things easy for Joseph or Mary, and He won't always make things clear or easy for us. Joseph and Mary had to believe what God's angels told them about the child who would be called Immanuel. [For an illuminating read about Mary's predicament, read The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey (Zondervan 1995)].
2. Jesus was born to bear witness to the Kingdom of God.
Christ came to teach us kingdom principles (Matthew 5:7), which are very different from worldly principles. Worldly principles say "don't get caught"; kingdom principles tell us we're already guilty and if we've thought about doing it, we've done it in the eyes of God, because He's looking at our heart. We all need Christ's forgiveness!
For those who know Him, Christ gives hope of the kingdom to come. Colossians 1:27 says that Christ in us is the hope of glory. We do not hope in vain.
3. Jesus came to implement God's plan of salvation.
Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. Death was always the penalty of sin. For this reason, the blood of animals was shed to atone for man's sin. But because animals were simply animals, their blood had to be shed over and over again.
Jesus Christ was God's perfect sacrifice and His final sin offering. Jesus was prepared to die so that we could have eternal life.
This Christmas you may receive many gifts, some you're excited about and some you wish to return. But even the shiniest, fastest, coolest, greatest gifts will tarnish, break, or go out of style. You may simply lose interest in that present you just had to have.
Salvation through Christ is an eternal gift that will never fade. And one of the coolest things about this gift is that it gets better with age, not worse.
Accept the gift of eternal life through Christ this year and watch Him keep on giving. You will have an entirely new reason to celebrate this season, and His name is Jesus Christ.