I'm sure you have all heard the Christmas story before. In fact, this familiarity is often detrimental. When I hear something I have heard many times before, I stop paying deep attention and forget to focus on what it actually means. Christmas is often like that. We know the nativity story so well that we are no longer affected by its power.
This Christmas season, I just want to remind myself and others what we are truly celebrating. Christmas isn't about some vague "Christmas spirit" of joy and generosity. It's about the God of the universe who sacrificed the perfection of Heaven to live for 33 years in this pain-filled world. He was human, and therefore subject to all of the hardships and difficulties we face. After a miserable life here, He then went even further and allowed Himself to be killed in the most brutal way known to man, all because He loved us so much that He wanted us to be with Him forever. Then, after three days, he conquered death and rose again in glory. That is the God we worship this Christmas.
This year, I encourage you to read the Christmas story for yourself. If you want to go even deeper, there are many prophecies regarding Christ scattered throughout the Old Testament. Some of these are as familiar as the Christmas story itself, but others aren't so well known. Here are some passages to read in the next few days as Christmas approaches:
Isaiah 7:14 - "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Emmanuel."
Isaiah 9:6 - "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Galatians 4:4-5 - "But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we may receive adoption to sonship."
Titus 3:4-7 - "But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
And then of course, the Christmas story itself is told in Matthew 1:18-2:12 and Luke 1:5-2:20.
John 1:1-18 speaks of the "Word" and the "Light," both of which refer to Jesus Christ. This does not recount the actual events of the first Christmas night, but it covers more fully the true meaning of Christ's birth. Even though this passage isn't always associated directly with Christmas, I love the perspective it gives.
This year as we celebrate Christmas, please take some time to consider what this holiday is truly about. I'll leave you with one final verse from Isaiah 9:2 that I think captures the beauty of Christ's birth:
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined."
What are some of your favorite Christmas verses? What do you do to help keep your focus on Christ during the craziness of the holiday season?
Thanks for reading!