Thursday, December 22, 2016

What's the point of Christmas?

     What is the point of Christmas? My guess is that if you are reading this you agree that it is more than running from party to party or store to store. It is more than getting and receiving gifts. It is more than a jolly fat guy in a red suit who sneaks into your house while you sleep. Seriously, how did we ever decide that was a normal thing to tell our kids? He see's you when you're sleeping? Two words - Dateline: Predator. 
     Joking aside, the purpose of Christmas is so much richer than we realize. But before we get to the purpose of Christmas, how about a quick reminder of the what of Christmas? On that first Christmas in a small Middle Eastern village, God took on flesh. Of all the mind-blowing things that have ever happened, the incarnation has to be at the top of the list. Think about it, the infinite, omni-everything God inhabited a body. And not just any body, but the body of a baby. Tiny and helpless, he lay in the feeding trough in that Jewish barn. The God who created Pluto, and as yet undiscovered creatures at the bottom of the sea, became like us. He slept and he hungered. He toddled and fell. He grew and learned. He had feelings and emotions just like we do. What a fascinating collision of realities. He was at once learning to hold His own body upright and sustaining every atom in the universe. 
     If we stopped the story right there we might get a nice warm-fuzzy feeling, but would have been left wanting for eternity. Push beyond the revolutionary notion that God could become man and yet be fully God. Ponder the why.
     Christmas was an act of cosmic war. Lest you think otherwise, look at how Herod slaughtered the babies of Bethlehem and tell me that was not an act of war. Venture beyond the city limits of Bethlehem and recognize that Jesus' birth led inextricably to His death. Christmas was the beginning of the end for the king of this age. The grand culmination took place three decades later on the cross and in the empty tomb. Satan inspired Herod to murder all of those babies in Bethlehem, because he knew that one of them was the head crusher promised to the first Adam in the Garden, and he knew that his days were numbered.
     In the book, "On the Incarnation" Athanasius of Alexandria had this to say about the purpose of Christmas, "Because it was precisely in order to be able to die that He had taken a body, and to prevent the death would have been to impede the resurrection." Indeed, the glorious purpose of Christmas is not just that God became man. The wondrous beauty of Christmas is that the God-Man came to die and, in doing so, deal a death blow to death itself. That is the incomprehensibly glorious purpose of Christmas.

"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus"