The true meaning of Christmas is obscured by materialism, sentimentality, fantasy. Our traditions are disconnected from their original meaning and we no longer understand or talk about the “why” behind what we do. Worse yet, our new traditions undermine the very essence of what Christmas is all about.
While Santa rewards the good and punishes the naughty with coal in their stockings, Christ justifies the ungodly and offers the ultimate gift to the undeserving.
“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8)
Christ was sent to the earth to die as a sacrifice of atonement for our sins on a tree. This is the tree of salvation.
“But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”’ (Galatians 3:13)
It is so important that we do not obscure the gospel by preaching moralism instead of the good news of the cross. Our good deeds are powerless in the fight against the flesh. Rule keeping and behaviour modification will not save you. We need this reminder because we are pulled constantly towards self-justification.
If you trust in Jesus you will become a child of God. You will be adopted into his family. He loves you and he will keep you, nothing can separate you from God’s love in Christ Jesus. If you depend on your own goodness you will be under God’s curse because the standard is perfection and there is no one who can do it.
We do not work for our salvation, we work from our salvation. Do you understand the difference?
For the glory of God and the good of our neighbours. Jesus came to bear the curse for us. He died for our sins, he laid down his life for our trespasses, the punishment that we deserved fell on him, by his chastisement we have peace, by his stripes we are healed. Jesus lived a perfect life, perfectly fulfilled the requirements of the law so that he could be our perfect substitute and lay his life down as a sacrifice for sins - bearing God’s wrath against sin upon himself. The wages of sin is death - Jesus gave his life, shed his blood, and was cursed by the Father.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
The reason Jesus was sent into the world was because the whole world was guilty of breaking God’s law and under a curse. Jesus came to fulfill the requirements of the law in his perfect obedience and to bear the curse for us through his sacrificial death on the cross.
“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, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)
The gospel of Christmas is that while every one of us was on the naughty list God sent his son to pay the price for sin, to die in our place on the tree of salvation.
I pray that as you look at your tree this Christmas you remember that Jesus bore that curse for you.
Do you believe that salvation, the greatest gift, can be received by anyone? How can this belief be reflected in your life?
When you are talking with your kids about the gospel message this Christmas, ask them to articulate how to have eternal life. Do they understand that this is a free gift or something they have to earn?
Spend some time thanking God for His gift of salvation this Christmas. Commit to thankfulness throughout the year.