George Rasley, CHQ Editor | December 24, 2014
The tradition of giving gifts on Christmas is said to commemorate God’s gift to humanity on Christmas Day – his son, Jesus Christ.For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16 (KJV)
But our modern iteration of this ancient Christian idea – that the birth of Jesus Christ was a gift from a loving God to a sinful world – tends to leave out the most important element of the gift; that it wasn’t a “present,” it was a sacrifice of God’s only son, for beyond the Christmas manger stands the Cross.
While Christians celebrate and focus on the gift of Jesus during Christmas, often lost in the joy and celebration, and yes commercialization of Christmas, is this central element of the Christian faith – while God’s great gift is bestowed on Christmas, it is only fulfilled on Easter.
And without the Cross of Easter, Christmas would be meaningless because the forgiveness of our sins required the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.
The idea that Christmas is a time of sacrifice has long-been expunged from our celebration of the birth of Jesus.
Even many Gospel-centered churches will leave out that idea, subtly substituting instead the notion that a gift to charity or an extra envelop in the offering plate during the Christmas Eve service is the kind of “gift” that is sufficient to commemorate the occasion.
But we think a close reading of the Gospel reveals that’s not the kind of “gift” God requires.
Hebrews 10:26 tells us, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins…”
The gift God asks of us at Christmas is to make a sacrifice of ourselves and to turn away from sin and give ourselves to Jesus Christ.
This Christmas season we invite you to renew your faith if you are a Christian, or if you have not yet heard the good news and given yourself to Jesus Christ, now is the time to open your heart to the gift of God’s only begotten Son – follow the star that shines over Bethlehem and leads to a humble manger and, if you believe in him, to a Cross, forgiveness of your sins and life everlasting.