Christmas is an extraordinary opportunity to recognize Jesus Christ as the center of festivity, mirth, and good cheer. Furthermore, any impartial survey of history will conclude that Jesus is the most important human who has ever lived. Despite His only 30+ years on this earth, His time here changed it forever. Over the last 2,000 years, Christianity has shaped the world in ways that no other movement has. I was a history minor in college and I took several church history courses in seminary. In my studies, I’ve been struck by the fact that largely speaking, the study of Western Civilization is essentially a study of the history of the church. Here are a few examples:
In the first century, a movement that started out as a fairly minor Jewish sect (referred to as, “The Way,” its followers only later being called “Christians) eventually outlasted the powerful Roman Empire. Despite Rome persecuting Christians incessantly, the movement only grew over time, eventually becoming the official faith of the Western world, swallowing up and permanently ending innumerable pagan religions. Despite being the most widely persecuted faith on the planet, it continues to grow.
The calendar that most people use in the world uses, as its starting point, the life of Christ. Each year before the life of Christ are the letters, B.C. and this stands for “Before Christ,” Every year after Christ’s birth, is followed by the letters, AD, and these two letters mean Anno Domini. In Latin, this means, “The Year of our Lord.” Every time we say what year we are living in or mention a time from the past, Christ’s life is the reference point. Despite efforts to erase Him from the equation (C.E., “Common Era,” B.C.E, “Before Common Era”), even the secular world still marks every day by Christ.
It’s also notable that the book that is chiefly devoted to telling the story of Christ is far and away the most purchased, gifted, and read book in all of human history. Furthermore, the second most sold books were influenced by the Bible. Many of the other most consumed books in the world owe much of their primary inspiration to the Bible (The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia). These books have been printed and distributed in the hundreds of millions, while the Bible has been printed and distributed in the billions. People are drawn to Jesus unlike anyone or anything else.
The True Meaning of Christmas
No secular person can escape the reality that Jesus is the most influential person in the history of the world. So, the question that any honest person needs to ask is, why is this man’s influence on the world far more significant than anyone else’s?
It is vital that everyone in the world listens to what Jesus said concerning himself in the gospels. He makes the claim, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). He also says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life but whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). This most significant man makes major statements about reality. To understand the meaning of life is to understand who Jesus is and what he has done. Jesus is the only person in world history that one cannot afford to be indifferent toward. The true meaning of Christmas has eternal implications.
Celebrating the Incarnation
Christmas is the time of year when Christians worldwide remember and celebrate the incarnation. Christians celebrate that God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ. It is hard to wrap our minds around this, and we never fully will – it is a mystery. The same One who created billions of galaxies; and the same One who created you and me, became flesh and blood as we are. God never had a beginning as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have forever existed in an eternal fellowship (John 17:5). The second person of that Trinity, the Son, is the One who took on flesh (John 1:14). When Jesus came to this earth he came on a rescue mission to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). After living a perfect life (1 Peter 2:22), he died on the cross to pay the penalty for sins and then rose gloriously from the dead (1 Peter 3:18; 1 Corinthians 15:20), and anyone who believes in him will be freed from the punishment one deserves in hell and will receive eternal life (John 3:16). To have eternal life means that one will live forever with Jesus the One you were created to know, love, and worship (Colossians 1:15; Psalm 16:11). The Bible tells explains why Jesus is the most influential man in history. He is the God-man (John 1:1), the Savior of the world (1 Timothy 2:5-6), and the forever king (Revelation 19:16; 22:1). It is of the highest importance that everyone on earth allies oneself with Him while there is still time.