There are several different Christmas traditions that are observed this time of year. Many families share a large meal together. We look forward to having our entire family together, the turkey and all the fixings, lefse w/brown sugar and Grandma’s secret recipe for cranberry sauce!
One of my favorite Christmas traditions has been reading the Christmas story from Luke chapter two. In this story we learn that the earthly life of Jesus Christ had very humble beginnings. After a long journey, Mary, the mother of Jesus, gave birth to her first-born son. She then placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
God chose to reveal the birth to shepherds who were tending their flocks in the area. The most important birth in the history of the world was announced by an angel of the Lord with the glory of the Lord shining all around them. Notice that this birth announcement was not given to the most important men in that day. God did not choose to reveal the birth of His only Son to kings or princes or the religious leaders in the area. Instead, He chose shepherds, whose profession was considered in that day to be insignificant and lowly. The shepherds then went to see the child. When they returned, they glorified and praised God for the things He had revealed to them.
That is generally where we stop reading, but perhaps we should continue. This story tells us about the birth of Christ, and that this was important enough to warrant an angel of God. However, the story fails to tell us why this event is significant. We need to keep reading.
The Bible tells us that we, as human beings, are sinful by nature. Ever since Adam and Eve committed the first sin by eating the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3, human beings have been inherently sinful. Romans 3:10 tells us that “none is righteous, no, not one.” Later in verse 23 the Apostle Paul says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Paul goes on to tell his readers in Romans 6:23 that the wages of our sin is death. He’s talking about more than simply physical death. Here Paul is referring to eternal separation from God the Father Almighty.
The Bible also tells us that there is nothing we can do on our own to be seen as righteous in the eyes of God. Galatians 2:16 says, “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ…” There is no amount of good deeds that will pay the penalty of our sins and get us into heaven. We can give all of our money to the poor and walk a thousand little old ladies across the street, yet we would be no closer to heaven than when we first began.
This is where the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ comes in! Romans 5:8 says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” 1 John 3:16 says, “by this we know love, that he laid down his life for us…” What these verses (and several more) are telling us is that when our all-powerful, supremely holy God looks at those who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ, He no longer sees our sin! Instead, He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
I encourage you to add the reading of the true Christmas story to your Christmas traditions if you have not already done so. And do not stop there! Keep reading so that you can learn just how much God loves you. He sent his one and only son to earth to die for the penalty of your sins so you do not have to.