Why celebrate the birth of Christ?
The Bible tells us that the angels celebrated the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Luke 2:9 says, “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people..” Verse thirteen continues, “…And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” The Bible tells us that the angels celebrated. The shepherds celebrated in verse twenty, “… the shepherds returned glorifying God and praising Him for all the things they had heard and seen as it was told unto them.” If it was right for them to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, then I have no problem with us celebrating His birth as well. In truth, this is one of the greatest days in human history – when God became a man. He took on human flesh so that He could live, suffer, and die to pay the penalty of our sin. If not for the birth, there would have been no life. If not for the life, there would have been no sacrificial death; and, if not for the death, there would have been no bodily resurrection. We would be lost in our sin. I think celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ is great! In our family, we always celebrate Christmas.
What about the traditions of Christmas?
It can be noted that some of our traditions have pagan roots, but I prefer to focus on the positive. The Christmas season is a wonderful opportunity to witness. This year, we produced thousands of Gospel tracts that tell people that Christmas is all about Jesus Christ. It is a great opportunity for us to tell other people what Jesus Christ has done for us. In truth, many of the traditions of Christmas point specifically to His birth. Let’s look at them:
- The Manger Scene
We know that the “traditional” manger scene, depicted as a wooden barn shaped structure with statues of Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus along with shepherds and the three wise men, would not be historically accurate; but it does present the picture of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some have asked if putting them up is idol worship. I don’t believe so. The Bible tells us that we are not to create graven images so that we can bow down and worship them. It is sad that in many so called “Christian” churches today, people do bow down and worship statues of Biblical figures, but a manger scene is not created for the purpose of worship. It is just to illustrate a picture of something that did happen. Pictures are not always totally accurate, but they do give us a sense that something special has happened. We, for years, put a manger scene in front of our house and had several opportunities to witness through it.
- The Christmas Tree
There are those that say that the Christmas tree is nothing but a pagan symbol. I have had people quote Jeremiah 10:3-5 as the origin of the Christmas tree. Jeremiah 10:3-5 says, “For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go…” The obvious reference in this passage is not to a Christmas tree, but rather a reference to idols. Jeremiah is rebuking Israel for allowing themselves to fall into idol worship. This definitely was a pagan practice. God did not want His people to worship idols. This is definitely not a passage that refers to the Christmas tree. I have heard several stories about the origin of the Christmas tree. My favorite one is of the Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther, who first adorned trees with lights. While coming home one December evening he saw the beauty of the stars shining through the branches of a fir, and that inspired him to recreate the effect by placing candles on the branches of a small fir tree inside his home. I really cannot trace the accuracy of that story, but I prefer it above any of the other stories that I know. Frankly, we told our children since they were young that the Christmas tree teaches us several things:
- It is an Evergreen – this teaches us that Jesus came to bring us everlasting life.
- It is pointed – it points towards heaven. Jesus came to give us a way to get to heaven.
- It is a tree – Jesus Christ was to go to a tree and suffer and die to pay the penalty to our sin.
- It is from outdoors –When Mary and Joseph came to Bethlehem, there was not room in the inn. They were forced to make a place in a barn. Jesus was placed in a manger.
- The Stars of Christmas
Every place you go you see a star. That star reminds us of the Star of Bethlehem. The Bible tells us the wise men followed the star to find the young Child.
- The Candy Cane
The Candy Cane is a picture of the shepherd’s staff. Jesus Christ was the Good Shepherd. The red and white stripes stand for the purity of the Lord Jesus Christ and the red reminds us of the precious blood that He shed so that we could have eternal life through Him.
- The Christmas Wreath
The wreath is made up of Evergreen, again, and it is circular. This reminds us of the fact that God has given us eternal life. There is no beginning and no end to the wreath. The wreath is green, made from pine needles, which again, reminds us of the everlasting life that we receive through Jesus Christ.
- The Christmas Lights
The lights with which we decorate our homes and the trees inside remind us that Jesus is the Light of the world, and now that we as believers trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, we are to shine as lights for Him.
- The Exchanging of Presents
As we exchange presents, it reminds us of two things:
- The greatest gift that God ever gave to man was the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we enjoy eternal life by putting our faith in what He did for us. At Christmas time, we follow the example of our Lord by giving presents one to another.
- At Christmas time, we would like to give a gift to Jesus, but since we cannot physically give Him a gift, we can give gifts one to another. Matthew 25:40b says, “…Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” So, as we give gifts one to another, we virtually give gifts to Jesus Christ Himself.
What better way to celebrate His birth?
Each one of these Christmas traditions point back to Jesus Christ. That is why we say, again, that Christmas is all about Jesus Christ.
Next week I will conclude this series on why Christmas is all about Jesus Christ!