Christmas, great! Looking forward to chilling out, spending time away from work, with the family.
Christmas, great. Another Christmas having to endure Grandma’s farts, trying (but inevitably failing) to avoid arguing with Christina and putting up with Dad’s rants about Politics.
Christmas, great! Looking forward to eating, drinking and getting Merrah!!
Christmas, great. Another Christmas on my own, thinking about everyone and everything I’ve lost.
What does Christmas mean to you? Maybe you can relate to one or more of these scenarios.
Yet, when all is said and done, Christmas is about one person.
And when we think of Jesus, maybe an image like this comes into our heads:
Yeah? So? Why does matter? Jesus is born, grows up, says some wise things, dies a tragic death, the end. Can we get to the presents and eating please? Casino Royale is on isn’t it?
As good as it is to lie back, relax and enjoy some good food, presents and TV in the presence of family and friends, doesn’t it make sense to spend a little bit of time thinking about the person it all goes back to?
As such, to get an idea of who Jesus truly was it makes sense to go back to the source text, the Bible. To begin with, the Bible says that Jesus was fully God (John 1:1-14). Ever wondered what God is like? Well, you could do a lot worse than to look upon the man Jesus as revealed in the pages of the Bible. Have a think about that when you’re tucking into your sixth helping of whatever it is people eat at Christmas these days.
Still, you might be thinking – ‘why does this matter?’ Or ‘how will this effect little Jonty as he opens his king size remote control fire engine complete with singing and dancing Fireman Rupert on Christmas Day morning?’ And you’d have a good question. Why does it matter that God came as a human being to earth? It all seems a bit abstract and dusty and quite frankly, all rather meaningless.
Except that it really isn’t. Eyewitnesses at the time tell us that (amongst other things) Jesus came to save us from our sin (1 Timothy 1:15), which is a short way of saying that we’ve all turned away from God (Romans 3:12), lived our lives with no regard to him, and are therefore deserving of judgement, or death (Romans 6:23).
Without Jesus death and resurrection (God put Jesus forward to die on our behalf so that by faith we might not have to endure the punishment we deserve, see Romans 3:25) we’d be up a certain creek without a paddle, facing total separation from God and an eternity in Hell. If your answer to that is ‘my friends will be in Hell’ or ‘oh, at least it’ll be warm in Hell’ then might I humbly suggest that you haven’t really understood how bad Hell, or sin, really is.
Some people don’t like mention of all this Hell stuff, and in one sense, neither do I. Yet, without it the Bible says we don’t really get a sense of God’s love. That is, in order to understand God’s love for us, we surely have to understand what we’ve been saved from (Romans 5:8).
And yet there’s more. This fully God fully man Jesus also desires to know us. This again is only possible through Jesus death and resurrection, and knowing God in this way changes everything. From our human relationships, to what we live for in life, everything. To know God then is to live in a way God naturally intended, it’s what we were created to do (Genesis 3).
One last thing. Jesus, the supposedly sweet docile baby, grew up not only to die and resurrect (although that is quite something in itself) but is also now the ruler of heaven and our universe (Ephesians 1:22). As such, there are two options. We can either refuse to acknowledge Jesus rightful place as ruler of the world and our lives (Romans 3:10-12), or we can pledge allegiance to Christ, receive forgiveness for our rebellion and live under Jesus rule, with all the benefits that entails.
For Christians, Christmas gives us a chance to reflect on Jesus really is, what he’s done for us and what a privilege it is to know him as our king.
And if you don’t yet know him, why not spend some time in the next few days reflecting on who Jesus really is?
This talk by Jamie Child (minister at St Helen’s Church Bishopsgate) is as a good place to start. A Christianity Explored course would also be an ideal opportunity to ask any questions you might have.
Merry Christmas everyone!