Article: CHRISTMAS IS A TIME OF CELEBRATION, SALVATION & MOTIVATION | Jacob Varghese

In just a few days, Christmas will be here. Leading up to that time, we will see people going about in the hustle and bustle of shopping for gifts, getting the food items to prepare for the holiday feast and Christmas party. Christmas is one of the most important Christian holidays of the year. When you hear the word “Christmas,” what do you think of? Do you think of Christmas trees, Decorations, Christmas cards, Nativity scenes, Christmas caroling, Family get-togethers, Gift giving and gift exchanges or other religious traditions and beliefs? If I ask a person of other faith, he/she would say spending time with family, giving presents, food and drink is Christmas for them. If we look around, we understand how materialistically crazy Christmas has become. For many, especially children, the meaning of Christmas is simply how many good presents they get. But as Christians we all know hopefully, that is not the real meaning of Christmas. What is the true meaning of Christmas? Recently I casually asked one of my associates that what he understands by Christmas. His immediate response was family, friends, food and fun. IS THIS THE REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS? No, the true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Christmas is a time of spiritual reflection on the important foundations of the Christian faith. I would like to take your attention to the Christmas story mentioned in 2:4-19. You might have heard the story of Christmas many times. You hear it every year. But have you ever taken time to store them up in your heart and reflect them carefully? This story reveals that God sent His Son Jesus, into the world to be born to Mary, a young woman, and Joseph, her husband. Shepherds, wise men, and angels all shared in the joy of the event. The prophets of old had told of His coming hundreds of years before. The star stopped over Bethlehem to mark the way for those who visiting the holy child. God sent His son, Jesus, into the world so that one day, He would grow up to become the Savior of the world. He would pay the price for the sins of humanity by dying on the cross. The Bible says that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” All of humanity is born with a sinful nature and unable to please God on our own accord. But there is hope because of Christmas!

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Christmas is a time of celebration. It is when Christians celebrate God’s love for the world through the birth of the Divine Infant: Jesus. The true meaning of Christmas is celebrating the Savior. Jesus was born in order to pay the price for the things we have done wrong, the sin. God sent his only son to be the atonement for all our sins so that we would not be separated from God. Without Jesus, we would all die for our sins. We inherited our sinful nature from the first human beings God created, Adam and Eve. While being fully God and yet fully man, Jesus came into the world as an infant to save us all. Most Christmas traditions vary in significance and symbolic meaning. We exchange gifts because God sent us the most precious gift: his only Son. Also, three wise men visited Jesus and brought gifts as well. Although people worldwide celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th, it was likely that he was born on in a different month and date. For Christians, the true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of the Savior, Jesus Christ. We know that through our belief and faith in Christ we are daughters and sons of God. Heaven will one day be our home. When most people think of the message of Christmas, they normally think about angels, wise men, shepherds, joy to the world, peace and goodwill, and “to us a child is given.” True, Christmas celebrates the incarnation of the Son of God as a baby born to a Galilean teenage girl named Mary in Bethlehem. Christmas is indeed a time to celebrate God’s blessings and peace to all. But there is another side to Christmas! Christmas is the story of God’s promise to defeat evil powers, Jesus born to rescue people from oppressors, persecutors, resistance to imperial powers and faithfulness in the face of empire. Understand the nativity story in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. According to Matthew Jesus is born to save the people from their sins. Matthew 1:21 says “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Luke 19:10 says “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” So, Christmas means salvation and eternal life. Yes, Christmas is a time of salvation. In John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in the entire world that can save anyone.

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I love the traditions of Christmas, being with our family, friends and our loved ones and there is nothing wrong about giving! But the real meaning of Christmas is good news for all people. Jesus’ birth and life is a message of good news for us because it means we are never alone. It doesn’t matter how hard or hopeless our situation may be, God is there for us. For many people, Christmas may be a time of sorrow. They don’t have the extra money to buy presents for their children, family, and friends. Many are saddened at Christmastime when they think of their loved ones who will not be able to come home for various reasons. We don’t have to journey through our challenges and struggles alone. He understands them. He walks them alongside us. It is this message that gives us comfort and great joy to celebrate at Christmas. As the angel said to a group of shepherds on the night Jesus was born, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10). It is one of the most well-known Bible verses about Christmas because it is such an encouraging message. It is one of joy – because Jesus comforts and encourages us. It is one of hope – because we are never alone; God is always with us and it is one of inclusivity – because it is for all of us. Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ is more than a Christian holiday or Christian festival. It is more than an occasion to decorate our houses. It is an opportunity to pause and give thanks for the love, hope and joy found in Jesus – our Savior and friend. As we exchange gifts with loved ones, it must be out of the remembrance of the gift God gave us in Jesus. The gift of God’s love! God’s love is for everyone. You are not alone. You are loved, and you can feel hopeful and joyful. That is the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas should be an opportunity to tell the world about Jesus. We need to focus on Jesus! Giving gifts or exchanging gifts at Christmas is a good thing but we need to focus on the real gift of Christmas. That gift is Jesus Christ! The message of Christmas is a message for all people. The message of Christmas is a message that all people need. The message of Christmas is life-changing. The message of Christmas is eternity changing.

John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” The true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of this incredible act of love. The only way to remove the sin is through the blood of Jesus Christ. If we confess our sin and believe that God is faithful to forgive us for them, we are clean and made whole. We can have confidence that heaven is a place where we can go to when this life is over. God gave His only Son to take our punishment for our sins. He paid the price in full, and we are free from condemnation when we accept that free gift of love. Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. Jesus’ story is one of truth, love, and hope that brought salvation to all of humanity. Without the birth of Jesus Christ, there would be no hope of Heaven for humanity. Celebrate Christmas out of gratitude for what God did for humanity and remember His birth by giving gifts, worshiping Him, and rejoicing in the promise of Heaven.
Christmas is a time of Motivation. Christmas motivates us to live as witnesses for Jesus. Remember that Christmas is one of the best opportunities to speak about Jesus, as most people are even more open than at other times in the year. Use this time to speak to your friends and family who won’t know the Lord yet about the gift He has given us! The act of sharing our faith in Jesus is not just for the benefit of people of other faith but other Christians can also be motivated by our attitude. Romans 1:12 “that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” If I were to pick one verse out of the Bible to that expresses the message God was communicating through sending Jesus into our world at Christmas, it would be John 3:16 “16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This verse really challenges me about reaching out to people with the message of Jesus this Christmas. When it comes to how the Bible speaks about love, the question is not “what does love feel like?” The real question is “what does love do?” God’s love moves him to action. His love for us is so deep that He sent his one and only son into the world. Love sacrifices a lot for the sake of the one that is loved. God sacrificed a lot for the sake of the world. So, how do we love the world that God loves? How do you love the people God has put into your life? Christmas is just around the corner. It is out celebration of what God was willing to do to reach out to us because He loved us. This time of celebration should also motivate us in the same direction God is motivated to seek and save that which is lost, reaching out to the people God has put around us, if we don’t then we certainly don’t have out father’s love for the world. God is calling you and me to love the people and motivated that we are willing to reach out to them even if it costs us dearly.

The gospel message is about the greatest gift of all time. God gave us Jesus Christ his son, who brings great joy to everyone who receives him. The purpose of Christmas is to share this gift. What a great opportunity! Christmas is a time that focuses on the savior of the world. It is a time of salvation. There could be no better reason to celebrate Christmas. We can share the most wonderful gift of Jesus so that others may experience the great joy of salvation. If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your savior and you would like to experience the great joy, you can receive this gift of salvation and join in the celebration of Christmas. In Matthew 16:13 we see Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some says John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” They gave responses others had given. Then Jesus made it personal. “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”(v15) Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Many will celebrate Christmas without a thought about who the Baby really is. As we interact with the people around, we can help them consider these crucial questions. Is Christmas just a heartwarming story about a baby born in a stable? Or who do you say Jesus is?

JACOB VARGHESE

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