Christmas, i.e. the birth of Jesus is celebrated on December 25th. Many historians, however, believe He was actually born in the late summer, but the time of the year when He was born makes no difference. December 25th was an existing Jewish holiday celebrating the rededication of the temple about 165 BC in the time of the Maccabees. This was the last of the Jewish holiday, or feasts, and it was originally called the Feast of Dedication, or Feast of Lights. This was a jubilant time when the Jews carried branches of trees in their hands. It lasted for eight days beginning on December 25th. This Jewish holiday is better known today as Hanukkah.
The date Christmas is celebrated is not nearly as significant as compared to what and why it is celebrated. Those are the important issues. Who remembers the birth date of John F. Kennedy? What is remembered is what he did during his life and how and when he died.
When the birth of Jesus is considered it needs to be remembered that Jesus was the name given to God in the flesh, and Christ was His title, or position. Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, while Christ has always been.
Though Christmas is the most popular of all secular holidays, it ranks perhaps third in importance on the Christian calendar. No one has ever gained entrance to heaven just by believing Jesus was born in Bethlehem approximately 2,000 years ago. Even the demons believe that. According to the scriptures heaven is attained through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, both Good Friday and Easter will have a deeper meaning to Christians. The Bible reveals the profound truth that Jesus was born to die.
Though the account of the birth of Jesus is given in the gospel records, as are the other events of His life, so much depth of the Christmas story is missed if our understanding is limited to the few passages describing the events in Bethlehem.
The story of Jesus Christ began long before the virgin birth. In like manner the story of Jesus did not end at Calvary.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” Genesis 1:1
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…And the Word became flesh…” John 1:1-2, 14
The Greek base for Word is Logos which means the expression of a concept or thought. In this case Word is the image of God or the incarnate Christ, the second Person of the Godhead.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes…and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life…” I John 1:1
“He is the image of the invisible God…” Colossians 1:15
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us he His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person…” Hebrews 1:1-3
God was the only being in the universe that was not created. He was the creator of all things including angels. He created the most beautiful of all angels called Lucifer, son of the morning, but Lucifer thought because he was so powerful and beautiful that he shouldn’t have to be subservient to his creator. That was the initial sin in the universe, i.e. rebellion against the authority of God.
Because of God’s very nature He deals harshly with all rebellion and so it was, Lucifer was expelled from his place of authority in the heavens and cast down to earth. He brought with him his pride and rebellion which are the seeds of all sin. He was no longer Lucifer, but rather Satan, the Devil, the Father of Darkness, that Old Serpent.
Now the question can be answered, i.e. “Why Jesus?”
“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” I John 3:8
So then, the story of Jesus Christ is the story of God’s plan to cleanse the polluted earth, destroy Satan, and turn the restored planet and its inhabitants back to God as they originally were, perfect. Remember God’s assessment of His creation on earth.
“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good…” Genesis 1:31
Therefore, the mission of Jesus was to come to earth and repossess it. In other words, Jesus had to redeem, or buy back, the fallen earth and its inhabitants. When that is completed He will turn it back over to the Father.
“…Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power…The last enemy that will be destroyed is death…Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” I Corinthians 15:24-28
The story of Jesus is beautiful and complete beyond our comprehension. Our journey begins approximately 4,000 years before Jesus’ birth in the manger in Bethlehem and then we’ll continue on to New Jerusalem after which, time will be no more.
To be continued.