If you accept the world's view of Christmas you probably associate the annual holiday mostly with retail therapy and a jolly character that is well known for hanging out in chimneys.
Why do we celebrate Christmas? Certainly it's not to stimulate the American economy.
Sure, it is fun to enjoy a holiday filled with feasting, football, shopping and sharing with friends and family. But despite the plethora of worldly distractions this time of year, there is something very sacred about Christmas that deserves our attention and reflection.
You've probably heard or seen the catchy phrase, "Jesus is the reason for the season." What does it mean? For millions of Christians worldwide, there are three reasons why we celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Jesus was born to fulfill promises and prophecies
Jesus' birth fulfilled more than 300 prophecies in the Old Testament. For example, Jesus was born of a virgin (see Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:18-23) in Bethlehem. We've heard this so many times we take this miraculous event for granted, but the significance is more than a scene on a Christmas card.
Mary and her husband-to-be Joseph had to trust God and believe what His angels told them about the child who would be called Immanuel, or "God with us." Looking throughout all of Jesus' earthly life, we can find specific fulfillments of what the Bible predicted would happen concerning the Savior of humankind. It was all in the plan.
Likewise, God has a very specific plan and promise for your life.
Jesus was born to bear witness to the Kingdom of God
Christ came to teach us kingdom principles (Matthew 5:7), which are very different from worldly principles. Worldly principles tell us, "Don't get caught." Kingdom principles tell us we're already guilty and if we've thought about doing something, we've done it in the eyes of God, because He's looking at our heart. We all need Christ's forgiveness!
For those who know Him, Christ gives hope of the kingdom to come and a sense of peace here on earth.
Jesus came to implement God's plan of salvation
Salvation through Christ is an eternal gift that will never fade. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. Death was always the penalty of sin. Some sin may result in literal death; other sins lead to the death of something valuable in your life like innocence or a relationship.
Jesus Christ was born to die in our place. He gave His life so that we could have eternal life.
This Christmas you may receive many gifts. But even the shiniest, fastest, coolest, gifts will tarnish, break, or go out of style.
Salvation through Christ is an eternal gift that will never fade. And one of the coolest things about this gift is that it gets better with time.
Accept the gift of eternal life through Christ this year and watch Him keep on giving. You will have an entirely new reason to celebrate the season, and His name is Jesus Christ.
If you already know Him, take time today to talk with someone you know about the true meaning of Christmas. That's an inexpensive gift, with transformative power, which promises to bless both the giver and receiver.
Miles McPherson is the senior pastor of the Rock Church and Academy in San Diego. For more information, visit www.therocksandiego.org or www.milesmcpherson.com.
Published, December 2011