Jesus is the Reason for the Season!
At this time of year (in “the West”, at least), you see signs and bumper stickers and web images and all sorts of stuff that say this. Amidst all the Santas and snowmen and decorated trees and commercial hubbub, it’s a great reminder to all — Christian and non-Christian — that the origin of the Christmas holy-day season is the celebration of the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity, the Messiah (aka “Christ”), in the form of the man known historically as Jesus of Nazareth. It is important, especially for followers of Jesus, to always be mindful of this. And we need to teach our children from the outset that the Father’s gift of His Son was far more important than any presents they get on Christmas morning (or, possibly, Christmas Eve).
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” — John 3:16 (NASB)
A couple times over the past couple of weeks, though, I’ve heard people say that, no, “WE are the reason for the season!” At first, that might sound rather presumptuous and me-centered, rather than God-centered. But, this was said by people that are not ones to promote a me-centered, “your best life now” sort of message. These were God/Gospel-oriented, orthodox Christian believers. So, what did they mean?
Well, I didn’t discuss it further with them. But, if I were to hazard a guess — which I am, of course –, I’d say that they were pointing to the Cross. That is, the purpose for the Incarnation which we celebrate at Christmas was not to focus on the Baby Jesus but on the work of the God-man Jesus. We are born into a morally “fallen”, broken condition, in natural rebellion against God. Since God is by definition holy and just, He cannot abide such rebellion, and He will pour out His wrath against all those who remain in rebellion until they die (or Jesus returns, whichever comes first). There is only one way to escape that wrath. Jesus came to take on our sin and be punished in our place, if only we recognize Him as our Lord God and Savior and agree to follow Him. So, the Incarnation led to Christ’s death and Resurrection, so that we may be saved. Salvation is the Ultimate Gift (via Jesus), and it was given to us. In that respect, it is certainly about us, as well as about Jesus.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” — Eph. 2:8,9 (NASB)
But, is that it?
After giving it some more thought, I’ve come full circle. I think Jesus is still the main Reason for the Season. We are not the focus of the Gospel message — Jesus is. Our salvation is not an end in itself. It is only a means to an end. God’s eternal plan is to conquer sin/evil, in which we, as moral agents, are instruments. That is, we participate in the evil, and some of us make the free will choice to accept the Father’s offer to be reconciled to Him. But, ultimately, the end is to bring glory to the Son, Jesus Christ.
Christmas wishes for peace and health and blessing for our fellow man are nice but inadequate. The only true peace comes from the Prince of Peace. He is the Good Physician, who can heal body, soul, & spirit. The best blessings come from God the Father above. And Jesus is still the Reason for the (Christmas) Season. Amen!