Beyond the gifts and decorations, the lights and the songs, Christmas is ultimately about the coming of Jesus to earth as a baby. But have you ever asked yourself, “Why? Why did Jesus come, and why is that important?”
Two opposing characteristics of God led to the decision for Jesus to come. On the one hand, God is a God of justice, demanding that wrong-doing be punished. We have all hurt others, hurt ourselves, and even hurt God Himself by rebelling against Him. Because of these crimes, we deserve to be punished. In fact, our rebellion (i.e. sin) carries the sentence of death and eternal separation from God.
But God is not only a God of justice; He is also a God of mercy. He does not want to punish us; His justice demands it. Yet His mercy would rather extend grace and forgiveness.
So on the one hand you have the justice of God, and on the other hand you have the mercy of God. And the two came together in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus, who by His very nature is God, became a baby. Then He grew up and died on a cross in order to serve our sentence in our place. So the demand for justice was met, and in its place we can enjoy the mercy of God.
Consider the traditional Christmas carol, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” That song is drawn from an Old Testament prophecy saying we would call the Messiah “Emmanuel.” But don’t we call Him Jesus? Well, “Emmanuel” was more of a description than a name. It is a word that simply means “God is with us,” and that is exactly who Jesus was. He was God in the flesh.
A few years ago, a hit song asked the question, “What if God was one of us?” But the truth is, that is not just a hypothetical question. God really did become one of us!
He was not born in a palace, but in a stable. As He grew up, He endured the same types of hardships and pressures, discouragements and temptations that each of us still face today. Then He suffered, bled, and died to pay the penalty for our sin. Then, finally, He conquered death when He rose again and He is alive and well today. The Incarnation—the coming of Jesus to earth as a baby—set it all in motion.
Do you know this Jesus? Have you ever accepted His free gifts of mercy and forgiveness? Or are you still facing His justice? Jesus came to offer you hope… hope for today and right on into eternity.
If you would like to experience this hope, you can. How? By choosing to live for Jesus from this moment on. Begin to pray and read the Bible. Get to know Him personally. Allow Him to give you a brand new start in life.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of a baby; it can be a celebration of a rebirth for you, too!