Wikipedia states that Christmas “is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ.”
So far, so good.
However, in our modern western culture, little of the "annual festival" has anything to do with the birth of Christ.
Was December 25th the birth date of Jesus? Probably not.
What do the lights, trees, Santas, and frenetic commercial activity have to do with the birth of Jesus Christ? Nothing.
I’m not writing about the seasonal festivities.
So, why Christmas?
Wikipedia gets it right: it’s about “the birth of Jesus Christ.”
But why is that significant?
I’ll use the example of an endgame. An endgame is the final stage of the extended process of a game, such as chess.
Metaphorically, the birth of Jesus was the opening of God’s “endgame.”
A holy text confirms this:
“... when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, …” (Galatians 4:4).
Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was the historical event that began the final stage of God’s purpose to recover not only Humanity, but all of Creation.
The apostle Paul confirmed the purpose of this “endgame” as he wrote,
“here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners …” (1 Timothy 1:15).
God advanced his radical purpose through the birth of Jesus Christ.
When we think of a worldwide health problem, cancer, HIV/AIDS, or a host of other conditions come to mind.
Put in these terms, our greatest human problem is death.
Death is inevitable to us all – but it wasn’t always so. I expand on this in the post “Three Absolutes” – particularly, the second absolute shared by all humans.
What is death?
One aspect is the death of a person’s body: “the body without the spirit is dead …” (James 2:26).
A second aspect is a living death. We all have neighbors, friends, even family members who are physically alive but “dead in their transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).
And death is not the end (Hebrews 9:27).
Is there a ‘cure’ for this problem?
After an unhealthy patient is examined competently, a doctor provides a prescription to bring that person to health.
In the case of death, there is only one prescription for life – Jesus Christ.
This is a bold claim made by Jesus himself:
The birth of Jesus Christ was the introduction of God’s cure for death.
If a cure for cancer or HIV/AIDS was discovered, we would celebrate. And if you had HIV/AIDS or cancer, you would want that cure.
What happens if a patient knows of the effective cure but doesn’t do anything about it?
That person remains in the default position: continuing sickness and eventual death.
The same holds true for God’s cure for death: Jesus Christ. If you choose not to participate, you remain in the default position of living death.
Here’s our question: Why is the birth of Jesus Christ significant?
Answer: It was the beginning of God’s endgame to cure death for every person who is willing to receive it.
If you’ve already received this gift, perhaps this Christmas you’ll let others know it’s available for them too.
Photo credit: vainglory via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA
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