I’ve got a bit of a love-hate relationship with Christmas, or at least a lot of the trappings surrounding it. The struggle to create a “perfect” Christmas, the whole Christmas-karma nonsense… But one of the things I desperately struggle with is our lack of understanding of what Christmas is really all about.
Christmas—the incarnation—is a declaration of war.1
And yet, more often than not, we shy away from this understanding, don’t we? We joyfully embrace what happened that day and all the details of the story:
The Son born of a virgin, the shepherds attending Him, the angels singing, all of it.
But we forget to talk about why. Why did Jesus come to be Emmanuel—”God with us”? Why was it necessary for Him to come at all?
God With Us to Wage War on Sin
Of course, we know the answer. We know why Jesus came. The baby didn’t stay a baby; He became a man who would die in our place, perfectly satisfying the wages of sin. We know the Easter story… and yet we don’t seem to connect the it to our Christmas celebrations.
We need to connect the dots. We need to remember, as some have said, that Jesus was born in the shadow of the cross. To see, as Simeon did, who this baby truly was and rejoice as he did:
Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel. (Luke 2:29-32)
Simeon doesn’t rejoice simply because he’s seen the baby Jesus—he rejoices because he’s seen God’s salvation. He’s held Him in his hands. That’s pretty incredible, isn’t it?
Can you imagine what our Christmas celebrations would look like if we had that same sense of awe?
Remembering Christmas as More than Jesus’ Birthday
This year, remember Christmas not just as “Jesus’ birthday” as some of us tell our kids, but as the day God waged war on sin and death. For when we do, it changes the celebration. It doesn’t remove the joy or the excitement. It doesn’t turn what should be thrilling into a funeral procession. If anything, remembering this only deepens our excitement.
For Christmas is the day God waged war—and it’s a war He wins.
- With a hat tip to Matt Smethurst for articulating it so well.