As we join the world in the celebration of this holiday that falls on December 25th we must remember the words of our Lord, who told His Disciples that they were in the world but not of the world (John 17:11-16). “In but not of” is of the utmost importance always, but especially during the Christmas season. While the world conjures the image of an old man dressed in red, we must focus on the glorious truth of the incarnation. Webster defines incarnate as “invested with bodily and especially human nature and form.” The word incarnate describes what happened when Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son, took on flesh and was born of a woman. Thus Matthew says, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us (1.23).Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth: the moment when God Incarnate came to dwell among us. Furthermore, Christmas is the celebration of the hypostatic union of a divine nature and a human nature into one: the Second Person of the Triune Godhead. We use the word hypostatic to speak of the substance or essential nature of an individual, and in this season, it is embodied perfectly in Jesus Christ. Thus, we say that Christ is completely God and completely man; He is still that even today and will never cease to be so (Acts 1.11). Moreover, we say that this hypostatic union was necessary for Christ to be the propitiatory, atoning, and sinless human sacrifice for “not only our sins but the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2.2). God cannot die, and yet, Christ died. This is only possible through the doctrine of the hypostatic union of the God-Man. No other known religion on the planet has anything this special in its core doctrine.
Christmas then becomes yet another opportunity on the calendar to celebrate the Gospel. God is a Spirit, and a Spirit cannot die, so God became a Man, so that God could die for all mankind (1 Peter 3:18). Regardless of the reason the early church led Christians to begin celebrating the birth of Christ during the Winter Solstice, and regardless of what date Christ was actually born, this holiday can be redeemed. Focus not on the one of whom the legend says “knows whether you have been naughty or nice,” but instead focus on the One who not only knows whether you have been naughty or nice, but demonstrated His great love for you in that while you were naughty: He died for you. In fact, not only have you been naughty, but you are naughty. You were born naughty, and outside of a work of grace, you will remain naughty all the days of your life. While this naughtiness does not keep you from receiving Christmas gifts, it most certainly keeps you from dwelling with God in eternity. For God is just, and He can’t turn a blind eye to your naughtiness like the man in red does, nor would it even be possible for you to be nice enough to earn salvation. Don’t confuse your children with a mythical being who seems to possess god-like attributes. Instead, focus on the God-Man, Jesus Christ, and ensure your children understand why the Christian church celebrates Christmas. Every gift we receive and every gift we give should remind us of the unmerited gift of eternal life that we have received by grace through faith.
Finally, we must remember that the baby Jesus isn’t a baby anymore. 2000 years ago he was a babe wrapped in swaddling clothing, but the next time the world sees Christ He will be wrapped in a robe dipped in blood and on this garment and on his thigh will not be the name “baby Jesus.” On the contrary, the name written will be, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Don’t confuse your children with an inaccurate portrayal of the baby Jesus. Instead, remind them that the baby Jesus grew up, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, rose from the grave three days later, and He is now seated on the right hand of God the Father waiting to return to this earth and establish His Kingdom.
Merry Christmas takes on a whole new meaning with the right theological perspective.