The Purpose of Christmas
There is no doubt that if someone were to ask you to go to the Scripture and pick out a text that captures the essence of Christmas, that the book of Galatians would not necessarily be your first pick. I believe that many of us would immediately turn to the portion of Scripture famously read by the beloved character Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas.
We would go to the second chapter of Luke’s gospel account to read of a census being decreed by Caesar Augustus, thus forcing a man named Joseph to return to his hometown of Bethlehem, bringing with him the woman Mary whom he was engaged to, and who was pregnant with a Child neither his own, nor any other mans.
We would read the narrative of how it came to be that while they were there in that little town, that Mary would give birth to her first-born Son, and wrap Him in swaddling clothes, and lay Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.
We would read of Shepherds staying out in the fields to keep watch over their flocks by night while angelic messengers come to them bearing good news of great joy for all people that a Savior had been born for them in the city of David, and the sign verifying this truth would be that they would go to the city and find a baby lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes.
We would read of the choir of angels praising God saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased;” and we would read of the shepherds then traveling to Bethlehem to find a Child just as described, and reporting to Mary and Joseph all that was said to them, and Mary treasuring the truths spoken of her Child, and pondering them in her heart.
May we recall it being said to Mary of her Child that:
“32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
It was said to Joseph that Mary would give birth to a Son; and that he should call His name Jesus, which means Jehovah is Salvation, “For it is He who will save His people from their sins.” As the prophet Micah foretold:
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”
Nearly six-hundred years prior to the conception of this Child Isaiah the prophet said this:
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
He said elsewhere that:
“The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”
Immanuel meaning “God with Us.”
May we see today that the book of Galatians does not so much capture the narrative of Christmas as it does the purpose and achievement. A Child was born to us, a Son was given to us, so that we might experience redemption from our sin, and adoption as son’s and daughters of the Living God.
The Sight of our Plight
The Apostle Paul says that when the fullness of time came, that is to say that at the proper time for God’s predetermined and foretold plan of redemption to begin to unfold, He sent forth His Son to be born of a women, and to be born under the Law. He did this so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
This is good news because we are all sons and daughters of Adam, and in Adam we all die. Sin entered into the world through him, and death through sin, and so death as spread to us all. By the transgression of the one, death reigned through one. Through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men. Through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners. Sin is passed down through the seed of man. We are, therefore, all born sinners because our fathers are sinners. We are all by nature children of wrath, which means that the wrath of God abides on us in our fallen state. All of us have turned aside from God. None are righteous, not even one. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
We know we do not measure up to God’s standard. We miss the mark entirely because what is the Law but an expression of His glory? It reveals to us His holiness and consequently the unholiness of man. The Law is that good standard which shows where we stand in the eyes of the One with whom we have to do.
What is the summation of the Law? The first part of it is summed up with the command, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all of your strength.” God demands to be loved by us with the totality of our being. Not only does He demand it, but God deserves to be loved with the entirety of our persons. He is God! Our very existence is the product of His doing. He has supplied us not only with life itself, but the very breath required to sustain our lives. Our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, yet we frequently love everything but Him.
The second part of His Law is summed up by the command “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It is our God given duty to love others without flaw. This not merely an external matter but an internal one. Sure, you have not committed murder, but have you harbored hatred in your heart? It may be true that you have never committed the act of adultery, but have you let lust for another live comfortably in your mind? God is not merely a judge of outer actions, but of the very thoughts and intents of the heart. I believe an honest survey of ourselves reveals that we seldom meet the requirements of what true love for neighbor looks like.
We are, however, as Jesus says, to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. If we do not keep His Law flawlessly from our birth to our burial, justice demands we die forever under His good and holy fury. We are certainly in a desperate situation are we not? Our plight is a serious one with eternal consequence.
In our fallen state, we are cut off from the life of God and incapable of working our way back to Him. We are condemned already and destined to perish forever under His just wrath.
Yes, the Living God is compassionate and gracious, and slow to anger. He abounds in loving kindness and truth, because He is the epitome of love and truth. He is full of forgiveness for sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. He is light and in Him there is no darkness. His eyes are too pure to look upon sin. He hates sin for He is holy. The soul that sins, therefore, must die. God is never obligated to extend mercy and forgiveness. He will, however, always execute justice, not because He is subservient to justice, but because He is just. He is wholly good, and the issue we face is that we are not.
Christ the Incarnate Diety
For God to not punish any and all sin would mean that He is not good for it is evil to pervert justice. The question is, how can God justly forgive sin without corrupting justice, and justly punish it without crushing the guilty party? In other words, how can God extend mercy and forgiveness to sinful people and still punish the totality of their sin without them experiencing its penalty? When the fulness of time came, God sent forth His, born of woman, born under the Law.
The Father so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation of our sins. That is to say that God gave His only Son, whom He loved, to appease His wrath for our sin. He sent Him to satisfy the just penalty of our sin upon Himself. He demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet helpless, and ungodly sinners at war with Him, He sent His Son to die for us.
God the Spirit worked to bring about the conception of the Son in the womb of a virgin. Mary was told by the angel Gabriel that she would bear a Son and call His name Jesus. When asked how this could be since she had never had sexual relations with a man, Gabriel said:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”
To Joseph it was said:
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
A body was prepared by God the Spirit for God the Son to do the will of the Father.
May we never forget that the Father did not send His Son against His will. This is not what some have blasphemously coined as cosmic child abuse. Jesus Christ, the second Person of the holy Trinity, the Son of God from all eternity, the One who is the image of the invisible God, the One whom all the Godhead dwells in bodily form, the One who is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, willingly came to seek and to save that which was lost. He did not come to be served, but to serve by giving His life as a ransom for many. Of His own volition, He came to lay down His life for His sheep. As a song goes:
“Come behold the wondrous mystery
In the dawning of the King
He the theme of heaven’s praises
Robed in frail humanity
In our longing, in our darkness
Now the light of life has come Look to Christ, who condescended
Took on flesh to ransom us.”
In order to save us, He had to become as one of us. Man has sinned. Man must die. We, therefore, need a mediator between us and God if we are to live. A mediator must be able to fully represent both parties for reconciliation to occur. As the author of the book of Hebrews says:
“14 Since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives… 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
The emphatic testimony of the Scripture is that the Great I AM that I AM shrunk into flesh. It is that the eternal Son, although He has always existed as God, did not regard His divine privilege a thing to be to be held onto, but emptied Himself, taking on the form of a bond-servant, and was made in the likeness of men. He took on flesh. Is this not the testimony of John when he says:
“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth… 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”
God the Son became a Man. He did not cease to be God, but rather clothed Himself in humanity. He was One theanthropic person with two distinct natures. His life and ministry proved that He is truly God and truly Man, yet without sin since He had no earthly father.
As a Man, Jesus lived for us. He loved the Lord His God with all of His heart, and all of His soul, and all of His mind, and all of His strength. There was never a moment in His life when He did not have a pure and holy love for His Father. Not only did He live a life of complete devotion to God, but Jesus also loved His neighbor as Himself without flaw. He as Man, did what we could not do. He lived the life we are incapable of living. He fulfilled the Law of God. He was perfect as His heavenly Father is perfect, yet He suffered and died as if He had never once loved His Father, or even others.
As a Man, He became a curse for us. He humbled Himself to the point of death upon the cross where He bore our sin upon His body. He was pierced through for our transgressions, and crushed for our sins. He tasted of the cup of God’s wrath in the stead of sinners, and shed His precious blood to atone for them. Romans 8:3 says:
“3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
Christ died for sin, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.
May we never lose sight of the fact that He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him because He always lives to make intercession for them. After He rendered Himself as an offering for sin, He was raised back to life never to die again. Demonstrating, thus, that there is true forgiveness for sin, and true life in His name. The resurrection proves that God is both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Because of Christmas Day
What is Christmas? Christmas is to be a celebration of the character, nature, and will of the Living and Triune God. It is to be a commemoration of the goodness, and generosity, and grace of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Spirit towards us.
Christmas beckons us to come and behold the wondrous mystery of the incarnation. The act of God the Son assuming flesh. As Charles Spurgeon once said when considering the condescension of Christ:
“Infinite, and an infant. Eternal, and yet born of a woman. Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast. Supporting a universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms.”
Because of Christmas day there is redemption for those trusting in Christ. Because of Christmas day, we who were far off can be brought near to God by the blood of His Son. Not only are we given access to Him, but He adopts us as sons and daughters.
Because of Christmas day there is real and lasting forgiveness for anyone who turns from themselves in repentance and clings to Christ through faith. He will remove their sin from them as far as the east is from the west. There is no longer any condemnation for those who seek refuge in Him.
Because of Christmas Day there is true hope for all who cling to the One who died for their sin but was raised back to life for their justification. Because He lives they too shall live.
The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. He was rich, yet for our sake He became poor so that we through His poverty might become rich with forgiveness and life everlasting. It was Augustine that said:
“He became what we are that He might make us what He is.”
The sinless Son of God became the Son of Man so the sinful sons of men might become the sons of God. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them because He made Him who knew no sin to become sin on their behalf that they might become the righteousness of God in Him. There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. As Paul said:
“4 When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
Those who may not know Him, do not neglect so great a salvation. Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts. Repent and believe the gospel. Turn from yourselves and trust in Jesus confessing Him as Lord and believing in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. Call out to Him and be saved.
May we all celebrate the day that a child was born to us, and a Son was given. God sent forth His Son to save us from our sin and to make us His own, and His name was called, Emmanuel, God with Us!
Let us close with the words to the song Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus:
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of ev’ry nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Joy to those who long to see Thee
Day-spring from on high, appear.
Come, Thou promised Rod of Jesse,
Of Thy birth, we long to hear!
O’er the hills the angels singing
News, glad tidings of a birth;
“Go to Him your praises bringing
Christ the Lord has come to earth!”
Come to earth to taste our sadness,
He whose glories knew no end.
By His life He brings us gladness,
Our redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.
Leaving riches without number,
Born within a cattle stall;
This the everlasting wonder,
Christ was born the Lord of all.
Born thy people to deliver,
Born a child, and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By thine all-sufficient merit
Raise us to thy glorious throne.
May you all have a merry Christmas!
 Luke 2:1-5
 Luke 2:6-7
 Luke 2:8-12
 Luke 2:13-19
 Luke 1:32-33
 Matthew 1:21
 Micah 5:2
 Isaiah 9:6
 Isaiah 7:14
 Matthew 1:23
 1 Corinthians 15:22
 Romans 5:12
 Romans 5:17
 Romans 5:18
 Romans 5:19
 Ephesians 2:3
 Romans 3:10-12
 Romans 3:23
 Matthew 5:48
 John 3:16-18,36
 Exodus 34:6-7
 1 John 1:5
 Ezekiel 18:30
 John 3:16
 1 John 4:10
 Romans 5:6-10
 Luke 1:35
 Matthew 1:20
 Hebrews 10:5-7
 John 17:5
 Colossians 1:15
 Colossians 1:19; 2:9
 Luke 19:10
 Mark 10:45
 John 10:14-18
 Philippians 2:6-8
 John 1:1,14
 Philippians 2:8
 Isaiah 53:5
 1 Peter 3:18
 Romans 3:26
 Romans 4:
 Romans 6:23
 2 Corinthians 8:9
 2 Corinthians 5:18-21
 1 Timothy 2:5-6
 Galatians 4:4-5