In one sense it’s obvious isn’t it? At root, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, which was an event so significant that our dating system depends on it. But we all know the truth, which is that Christmas is a big deal for most people in the UK, but Jesus won’t play much, if any, part in it. But should Jesus be a bigger deal at Christmas?
I want to give you three reasons why I think Jesus should be a big deal for you this Christmas. If you’ve never really thought about him before, maybe this Christmas is the time to.
1. The Story of Jesus’ birth is amazing
If you’ve never looked into the story of the birth of Jesus, then you really should. And don’t be put off by your experience of school nativities. You might be surprised to know that no donkey is mentioned, there isn’t an inn-keeper, we’re not sure how many wise men there were and angels, far from being cute tinsel-wearing children, seemed to terrify everyone they met. Sometimes we don’t really know what we think we know!
And at the centre of it all is a baby who will change the world. Let me just point you to one little bit of of the story, where the angel Gabriel tells Joseph (Mary’s fiancé) about the son she’s about to have:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).(Matthew 1:23 ESV)
Jesus is God with us! The idea that God came down to live with us, to meet us and show himself to us in that baby is pretty amazing. Wouldn’t you want to know if that was true?
But we also read something about the name we know him best as, Jesus:
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.(Matthew 1:21 ESV)
That’s what his name “Jesus” means: God saves. It may come as a surprise to some of us that we need saving. Others of us may look at our lives and be desperate for someone to save us! But God looks at each one of us and sees a person who needs saving “from their sins.”
We don’t use the word sin so much now, but it just means the things we do wrong. When we do stuff wrong not only do we make a mess of our lives, our relationships and our world – and we see enough evidence of that to be convinced that we do sin – but we also offend God our creator. So we don’t just need to be saved from the mess we’ve made of everything, we need to be saved from God’s judgement.
And this Jesus (God with us remember) has come to do that. The very God who we’ve offended with our sin, loves us so much that he has a plan to save us: Jesus.
You see this stuff is bigger and more amazing than what you get in the school nativity play. You might think it sounds incredible. Maybe it feels like it can’t be true. But imagine if it was. Maybe this Christmas you could find out.
2. The Effects of Jesus’ life and teaching are incalculable
You would expect an amazing birth to have big consequences and funnily enough with Jesus that’s just what happened. As his followers spread out across the world we get this statement recorded from their enemies:
“These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.”(Acts 17:6 ESV)
And of course that continued as Christianity spread across the world. If we live in the UK, much of our culture and law is deeply influenced by Christianity. In fact, it may be that a lot of what you believe already has its roots in Christian thinking, even if you haven’t realised, because there’s a sense in which the roots of the UK and much of the western world are found in Christianity.
And it’s not just western Europe. Christianity thrived under the persecution of communism in Eastern Europe. It thrives in China and Africa and South America and Asia. It crosses barriers of race, culture, gender and class. One of Jesus’ followers wrote about the message of salvation that he offered:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.(Gal. 3:28 ESV)
The message of Jesus was for every kind of person in the world and so it turned the world upside down. Something that has had such an effect on the world, our culture and even in subtle ways on us, even if we’ve never really looked into it, probably deserves our time. Maybe this Christmas you could make Jesus a bigger part of it as you investigate his life and teaching.
3. The Good News Jesus brings is desperately needed
My final reason is that the birth of Jesus was good news. After the last couple of years and once again after this run up to Christmas which has been filled with bad news, we’re crying out for something good!
Well when the angel appears to the shepherds in the story of Jesus’ birth he says:
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”(Luke 2:10 ESV)
Most of us long for some good news and certainly a bit of joy. Well Christians believe the birth of Jesus is good news and brings great joy. Wouldn’t that be worth investigating this Christmas.
Let me suggest two ways to investigate further. The first is to come along to church. We have a couple of Christmas services where you could find out more. The second is to read the story of Jesus in the Bible in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You can read online.
I hope you have a great Christmas, but I hope most of all that this year Jesus is a big deal in your Christmas. He really is amazing and has the potential to upend your world with good news of great joy!