“… behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” Matthew 1:20-23
The Christmas season is often called “the most wonderful time of the year!” Even for the secular world who doesn’t care about the true meaning behind CHRISTmas, this is a season of joy, a time to lay aside differences with others, enjoying fellowship with family and friends, and uncommon selfless giving of gifts. It is wonderful in many ways! But the wonder of Christmas experienced by the secular world pales in comparison to the awe and majestic wonder that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings to us in our celebration of Christmas. Think about the meaning of Christmas. Why is there Christmas in the first place? Why did Jesus, God the Son, have to be born?
Was it because God simply wondered what life was like as a human? So he clothed himself in flesh for the sake of an experience? No, that’s not it. Maybe God wanted to come as a man in order to live a perfect moral life, so he can be our example to follow? Nope. Maybe God wanted to come so that he could teach us his truths directly? Not quite. All of these ideas for the purpose of Christmas simply don’t line up with the whole testimony of what Scripture teaches. God’s Word reveals a much more glorious and awe-inspiring reason for Jesus being born in the flesh.
In Matthew chapter 1, an angel of the Lord appeared to Jesus’ earthly father Joseph in a dream. Here God reveals to us the single most incredible truth about the purpose of Jesus coming. Here it is: Jesus was born to die. Joseph was instructed to name the child Jesus, which is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Yeshua or Joshua, which literally means “Yahweh saves.” The name Jesus is wrapped up in his purpose for being born. Just as the angel revealed to Joseph, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
So the true meaning of Christmas, God’s gift of salvation through His Son, is the very heart of the Gospel. We can’t separate the events of the nativity from the events of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus’ whole life, including his birth, was focused on the work he must accomplish in order to secure our salvation. Jesus the God-man, 100% God and 100% man, was the only one who could save us from our sins. He lived the perfect life in the flesh that we couldn’t live because of our sin. At the cross he took upon himself the wrath of God, all that we deserve for our sin. He then conquered death by rising from the dead. He did all of this for us, because of God’s incredible love for all mankind. God designed us to live in a relationship to Himself, but sin separates us from His perfection. Only by coming in the flesh, and through his vicarious atoning death on the cross could Jesus restore our relationship with God. So Jesus name holds true, “Yahweh saves!”
The real awe and wonder of Christmas is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Where God humbled himself, by being born in the flesh, in order that he might die, so that he might save us from our sin. Let us not lose our focus from this incredible good news of great joy, the true meaning of Christmas. May you be captured by the wonder of Jesus’ incredible love, grace, and forgiveness which is the greatest Christmas gift anyone could ever receive.