Christmas: What Are We Celebrating?

by Mike Spaulding

My preparation for this year’s Christmas Eve service took me to the normal places – Luke 1, Luke 2, and Matthew 1. But then I went to some unusual places in relation to our celebration of Christmas – Matthew 20 and 26, and Revelation 19.

We are all familiar with the Gospel accounts written by Matthew and Luke; the birth announcement, the responses of Mary and Joseph, the angelic worship and pronouncement of joy and peace to a needy world.  The Christmas story of the Christ child is a much-needed reminder of God’s love for His creation day by day.

But this is only part of the Gospel story. Yes God sent His Son to bring joy and peace to mankind. But how was that accomplished in the birth of Christ?  The birth of Christ was the announcement of the coming of the King.  But it also announced the commencement of God’s Genesis 3 plan – Jesus was born to be the Redeemer of a fallen mankind. This is where the Church must remember to place the emphasis.

This reminder however, creates a bit of uneasiness in much of the Church today. That uneasiness is the sad fruit of the Church having forgotten its mission.  The Church should not be focused on making sure people can feel the emotional warmth of a good nativity story and nothing more.  As Erwin Lutzer said recently, “Are we really at a place where we think we have won something because Target employees say ‘Merry Christmas’”?

The Gospel story includes Jesus’ testimony that “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).  That is the point Jesus made clear in the Upper Room on the night of His betrayal at the hands of Judas.  Read these words

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again only now through the lens of the Christmas story.  “Drink from it all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it with you in My Father’s Kingdom” (Matt. 26:27-29).

When we consider Jesus’ view on the purpose of His life we see clearly it always pointed to Calvary and beyond. The beyond He describes as God’s eternal Kingdom. Please note in the Mathew 26 passage above that Christ’s followers will celebrate with Him at another supper.  This brings us to Revelation 19.

What we find in Revelation 19:1-9 is a picture of a celebration in heaven. This is the same celebration Jesus spoke of during the Last Supper.  Note what exactly is being celebrated: (1) Verse 1 – God Himself – “Hallelujah” means praise be to Jehovah. (2) Verse 1 – Salvation – the fact that God has provided and those in attendance have received. (3) Verses 1-3 – God’s glory in His works. Then, (4) Verse 6 – God Himself again as well as God’s reign/rule over His creation. (5) Verse 7 – God’s faithfulness to fulfill His promises. This is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb where all those who place their faith in Christ will be in attendance. Finally, (6) Verses 8-9 – God’s grace and mercy in offering forgiveness of sins through faith in the finished work of Christ…

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Christmas: What Are We Celebrating? | The Transforming Word