As we participate in all of our favorite family Christmas traditions, perhaps it would do us well to consider the reason this Holy child came to Earth some 2000 years ago. This lesson is adapted from a small group lesson for Home Fellowship, copyright 2002.
The scripture texts for this lesson are found in Matthew, chapter 1, verses 18-21, John 19:30, and Ecclesiastes 7:1, the latter also being our key verse.
Matthew 1, verse 18 "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise. When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. (19) Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. (20) But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (21) And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins."
John 19:30 "When Jesus therefor had received the vinegar, he said, 'It is finished': and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."
Ecclesiastes 7:1 "A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth."
On Feb 12, 1809, in a small log cabin near Hodgenville, KY., Thomas and Nancy Lincoln became the proud parents of a little boy. Few people noticed, mostly just the parents, maybe a midwife, and a few neighbors. He had little formal schooling, but managed to educate himself well enough to become a lawyer, a politician, and on March 4, 1861, became the 16th president of the United States. Few people today know many details of Abe Lincoln's birth or his personal life, but nearly all Americans know how he died.
On May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Mass., Joseph and Rose Kennedy had the 2nd of 9 children, and they named him John. Although born into a family of great wealth, his arrival was still noticed only by those close to the family; there were no headlines proclaiming that John Fitzgerald Kennedy was here. From an Irish working class background, Joe Kennedy sought social prominence and legitimacy more than anything, and his ultimate goal was for his son to be president of the United States. On January 20, 1961, JFK fulfilled his father's dream. Anyone who was alive on Nov. 22, 1963 clearly remembers the tragic end to this story.
When a child is born, there is no way to know what he/she will accomplish, and therefore no way to judge the impact they will have on society. We cannot tell whether that life will become a Mother Theresa or an Adolf Hitler. To God each life is an eternal soul with great value, but in our world a person's worth is measured by his contribution to society: A person who accomplishes great things will be celebrated at his death, but if a person was evil, the world will celebrate because of his death. It is at the time of on's death that we can measure a person's impact and accomplishments; perhaps even one's purpose in life.
Every December people all over the world will put a tree in their living room, cover it with lights and tinsel, buy gifts for all their loved ones, and celebrate the birth of a child that arrived some 2000 years ago. They will gaze tenderly at the plastic baby in a small manger in a nativity and say, "This is the reason for the season!" but is it?
No birth in the Bible, or even in all of history has received as much attention as the birth of Jesus, yet despite the supernatural circumstances of his birth, his sinless life, his miracles, or even his preaching, the real purpose inGod coming to Earth as a man was revealed only in his death: As he told Pontius Pilate at his trial, "...for this cause came I into the world." The mission was told Joseph by the angel, forecasted by the prophets, and carried out by the only one who could have done it: "he shall save his people from their sins".
We mark our calenders by the birth of Jesus; each day's date is the demarcation of time past since his birth, but real life doesn't start until we are born again, that is, when we partake in the event that is the true "reason for the season", that is the death, burial,and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When Jesus hung on the cross, he looked back on his life, on the prophecies of a lamb that would be sacrificed for the sins of the world, and the great salvation plan conceived at the beginning of time, and said, "It is finished!" He reached the place where most men's lives are considered and appraised, and he had accomplished much: The price for forgiveness had been paid for all mankind. But he didn't stop there. The Bible says that he descended into hell and took from Satan the keys to death, hell, and the grave; and having defeated sin and death for us all, picked up his life again, giving all of us the opportunity to share eternal life with Him!
We can decorate all we want, give gifts to everyone we know, quote the Christmas story from memory, and empty our pockets into the red kettle at the Wal-Mart, and it won't make a bit of difference in eternity. If this is all Christmas is to us we have missed it. Good deeds or warm fuzzy feelings will not save us.
The greatest Christmas gift ever was given at Calvary: a chance for us to be forever changed by being born into the family that will never see death: the family of God. His purpose as a man was to die for us; our purpose is to live for Him.
Here are some questions that you can ask yourself or your family and meditate or discuss them. Perhaps it will help you to find for yourself the answer to that question: what is the real reason for Christmas?
I hope this lesson has helped you in some way to better understand what Christmas is truly about. If you have questions, or desire prayer for you or your family, please e-mail us. We would be more than happy to pray with you or answer your questions with Biblical answers.
May God bless, and Merry Christmas.