The significance of Christmas – Part 8
Note carefully! Jesus did not come to earth only to show us the way to heaven or to the Father. Jesus Himself is the Way. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn 14:6). Jesus is not one way among many, but the only way (see Acts 4:12; Heb 10:19-20).
Why is the virgin birth important to the Christian faith? Jesus Christ, God’s Son, had to be free from the sinful nature passed on to all other human beings by Adam. Because Jesus was born of a woman, He was a human being; but as the Son of God, Jesus was born without any trace of human sin. Jesus is both fully human and fully divine.
Because Jesus lived as a man, we know that He fully understands our experiences and struggles (Hebrews 4:15, 16). Because He is God, He has the power and authority to deliver us from sin (Colossians 2:13-15). We can tell Jesus all our thoughts, feelings, and needs. He has been where we are now, and He has the ability to help.
The infinite, unlimited God took on the limitations of humanity, so He could live and die for the salvation of all who would believe in Him. Christ died to destroy Satan’s power over those who believe (cf. 1 John 3:8) and to deliver them from the fear of death (Rev 1:8) by promising eternal life with God (John 17:3; Rev 21-22). To identify fully with human beings, Jesus had to endure Satan’s temptations. Because Jesus faced temptations and overcame them, He can assist us in two important ways: (1) as an example of how to face temptation without sinning, and (2) as a Helper, Who knows just what we need because He went through the same experience. In living and suffering as a human person Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses. As the divine Son of God, He has the power to deliver us from sin’s bondage and Satan’s power. As both divine and sinless human, He qualifies to serve as a sacrifice for the sins of every person and as a high priest to intercede for all who come to God.
Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself is clearly a superior sacrifice to the animal sacrifices of the old covenant. Because Jesus was as stated in Heb 7:26, “holy” (i.e., without moral defect), “harmless” (i.e., blameless, innocent, untouched by evil), “undefiled” (i.e., pure), and “separate from sinners” (i.e., sinless), He was the perfect substitutionary sacrifice for sin—the just for the unjust.
The name, Christmas is a contraction of the term “Christ’s mass.” The name did not come into use until the Middle Ages. In the early part of the fourth century, Christians in Rome began to celebrate the birth of Christ. The practice spread widely and rapidly, so that most parts of the Christian world observed the new festival by the end of the century.
No evidence remains about the exact date of the birth of Christ. The December 25 date was chosen as much for practical reasons as for theological ones. Throughout the Roman Empire, various festivals were held in conjunction with the winter solstice. In Rome, the Feast of the Unconquerable Sun celebrated the beginning of the return of the sun. When Christianity became the religion of the Empire, the church either had to suppress the festivals or transform them. The winter solstice seemed an appropriate time to celebrate Christ’s birth. Thus, the festival of the sun became a festival of the Son, the Light of the world.
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