Why Celebrate? The Reason for the Season
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
December 25th fast approaches. Each year it seems that we reach Christmas Day faster and faster. But my perception of the ever-increasing speed at which time passes is another story. I’m not sure, but I think that the speed at which time passes might have something to do with growing older.
Regardless of your view of the passing of time, Christians throughout the Western world will be celebrating the birth of the Savior on December 25th once again. It is Christmas Day. It’s not just any holiday. I suppose that it would be more politically correct to wish everyone a Happy Holiday. But denying the reality of the Incarnation does not make it so. December 25th is a day for celebrating the birth of the Christ!
The popular story is that the church borrowed December 25th from pagan practices. Yet a more accurate study of history reveals that the early church celebrated Jesus’ birth on December 25th at least as far back as the 2nd Century A.D. And by the 4th Century, the entire Western church had set December 25th as the date upon which Jesus’ birth took place and was to be celebrated annually.
In the early church, the significance of Jesus’ birth was not the highest priority. More was written about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Church Fathers were more concerned to keep the historic and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ before believers. The Apostle Paul wrote, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). At the same time, Jesus’ birth narratives were never questioned. It was assumed that every believer accepted the reality of Jesus’ birth as well as His bodily resurrection.
As important as the date for Christmas is, there is a more important question that faces all of us. The more important question is not when to celebrate Jesus’ birth, but why do we celebrate His birth?
But when we look at the basis of our faith resting upon the historic fact of Jesus’ bodily resurrection, it becomes obvious that without His physical birth, His bodily resurrection would not have occurred. The earliest prophecy of the Incarnation was revealed in Genesis 3:15. God declared that the “seed of the woman” would crush Satan’s head. God made it clear that a man would be born out of the natural course and defeat Satan. Isaiah prophesied the birth of Immanuel, God with us. “Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Matthew recorded that Jesus’ conception in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit was to “fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet [Isaiah]” (Matthew 1:22).
We celebrate Christmas because God’s only Son, Jesus was born as He promised. The gospel of Matthew states, “Mary… will bear a son, and you [Joseph] shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The Apostle Paul wrote this, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (Galatians 4:4).
The incarnation was necessary for God to reconcile the world to Himself through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. There was a time in the history of the world during which God walked the earth. His name is Jesus, and He is the second person of the Trinity, very God and very Man. This Jesus born of a virgin is the only appeasement of the wrath of God against sin (1 John 2:2). He is the one who has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). He is the only Savior of mankind. He is Lord of lords and King of kings!
Jesus is the reason for the season! Amid giving gifts, decorating Christmas trees, and enjoying family gatherings, remember that God demonstrated His love by giving His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Celebrate this Christmas Season knowing Jesus, the reason for this season! Remember it was Jesus who said that eternal life was knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent (John 17:3).
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14).
Why Celebrate? The Reason for the Season