In a day and time when a seasonal holiday with deep Christian roots is under attack, it is imperative that we stay focused on Christ and His redemptive work.
So, is it possible to make the most of your Christmas by simply staying focused on Christ? Christmas after all is about Christ. The WHO of Christmas is the incarnate Son of God. The WHAT of Christmas is the gift of salvation provided by the person of Christ and our proclamation of that gift. The HOW of Christmas is the opportunity to model the self-sacrificing life of Christ in all our Christmas gatherings and celebrations.
If we are going to be gospel centered in our Christmas celebrations, the gospel must inform us and shape our hearts. In this topical study we will work our way through several biblical texts striving to apply the biblical command of Ephesians 5:15-16 and Colossians 4:5 “to make the most of every opportunity” to all the Christmas opportunities before us this season.
The challenge is to focus on the person of Christ during Christmas. Christmas is about the Lord Jesus Christ Who is God. The reliable Word of God declares that Christ is the eternal Word of God who gives the greatest gift of light and life (John 1:1-5). Jesus is the promised Messiah (Romans 9:5). Without question, He is the Great God and Savior (Titus 2:13).
Christmas is about Christ, the eternal Son of God. The birth of Christ that we celebrate is not the origin of our Savior. The Scriptures make it irrefutably clear that Jesus had at no point in eternity a birthday. He is the eternal Son of God Who shared and shares the same type of glory with the eternal Father before the foundation of the world (John 17:5; Hebrews 1:1-4). The Lord Jesus is the pre-eminent (first-born) One over creation Who brought the world into existence and Who upholds its existence. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ declared that He is the eternal Son of God (Romans 1:3-4).
There are two texts that capture the awe and wonder of Christmas for me. The first is the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1:1-17. As you read through the first 17 verses of this chapter, you are impressed with the importance of Christ in a variety of ways. As the Son of David He is the sovereign ruler and Davidic King. He is the tribe of Judah descendant, the promised Messiah (Genesis 49:10). As Son of Abraham, He is the One through Whom the world is blessed with salvation.
The grammatical precision of the “of whom was born” phrase in Matthew 1:16 emphasizes the importance of the virgin birth. Mary brought forth the incarnate Son of God apart from the means of Joseph.
The inclusion of four women—Rahab, Ruth, Tamar, and Bathsheba—in the genealogy remind us of the power of the gospel. Rahab and Ruth are foreigners in a Jewish genealogy. Rahab, Tamar, and Bathsheba are historically notorious for their sexual sin. Despite these negatives, the redemption Christ brought reached each of them personally. The good news is that Jesus saves sinners and then uses them to accomplish His glorious eternal purposes.
So, what is the “awe” factor of the Matthew genealogy? A great and eternal God does the incredible for hell bound sinners. The work of redemption is saturated with grace and mercy.
This is the story and joy of Christmas.
The second text that inspires my awe and wonder for Christmas is Philippians 2:5-11. In this text we are taught that the eternal Christ took on the form of a servant for us. The theology of this passage focuses attention on the eternality and the humanity of Christ. As One equal with the Father there was nothing for Him to steal to enhance His stature. As One equal with God He took on the form of a man-like bondservant. Christ humbly obeyed the will of the Father up to and through crucifixion. As a result, God the Father highly exalted Christ and all creation will bow to the exalted Christ. All creation will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father.
So what is the “awe” factor of the Philippians text? I am amazed at how the eternal God dealt with the problem of sin and evil. I am amazed at how the story of Christmas is really the plot line for our life. On the basis of the incarnation, the Philippians text exhorts us to think as Christ thought and to love and live as Christ loved and lived, and, as well, to obey what Christ commands by means of His power working in you.
Finally, Christmas is about enjoying Christ. Every Christmas meal is noticeably dressed with delicious bread, satisfying beverages, and beautiful lights. The Lord Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:31-35), the living water (John 4:10-15), and the light of the world (John 8:12).
Make the most of this particular seasonal moment by staying focused on Christ. If you can do so with discipline of Spirit and affection of heart at this moment, you will be prepared to do it for the next season of your life.