Today we will discover the true meaning of Christmas with the help of Alistair Begg. Can we simplify in one succinct statement the birth of Christ? If you move to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, you will find a statement that he was giving to that group of believers to help them become more generous with other Christians needs. It was a selfless illustration of generosity and kindness that the world has ever experienced.
“For you know of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though He was rich, yet for your sake, He became poor so that you through His poverty could become rich.”
Looking at this statement, there are a lot of words and phrases that jump out at us. The first word is “grace”. If I gave you a blank sheet of paper and asked you to give a three-word definition of grace, what would you write? Grace is the unmerited, spontaneous love of God. God gives to those that don’t deserve it and who do not merit this love. The second word is “rich”. How rich?
The Bible tells us that the riches of Jesus are based on His existence before He was born with the Father and the Holy Spirit. This same Jesus was the creator of the whole universe and everything was under His control. Therefore for Him to become poor was radical. To become poor means Jesus left all the glory of heaven to become a man. It is not as much that he was born in a stable and lived a meager life, but the great expression of His poverty was that he invaded the human race. The equivalent to His coming to earth and becoming a man would be us becoming an ant. He assumed our human nature in all of its sinful nature and desires.
He became poor for “your sake”. Understand that that Jesus did not come and die on the cross just to demonstrate self-giving or God’s love though He demonstrated those conclusively. He came, as the Bible says, to build a bridge over the troubled waters of our aloneness and our self-centeredness and our indifference and our rebellion. This aloneness is one of the central features of our culture. That is, you can be surrounded by other people but still feel alone and alienated.
This is the message of Christmas: In His coming Jesus was the bridge over troubled water who takes our aloneness and our alienation and closes the gap, by His death on the cross, with a Holy God and a sinful man.
He also came to fetch us back. You see, He came alongside us like a shepherd who picks up a lost sheep and carries it on his shoulder and takes it safely to where it needs to be. He is truly the good Shepherd; He gives His life for His sheep.
I think the significance of the cradle in the manger is that it leads to the cross and on the cross He was bearing sin. On that cross, He was redeeming us since He was sinless Himself. Christ came to touch each of us in our aloneness and transform us in our confusion so that we change.
Since forgiveness came at such a cost, He came to pay a debt He didn’t owe because we owe a debt we cannot pay.
If simply knowing this were significant, then all of us would be fine and content. But, I’m afraid it doesn’t work that way. You need to do something. Just believing is not sufficient. It requires us to personalize it. In a sense, we need to sign on the dotted line that we admit we owe a debt we cannot pay and admit we have sinned and continue to sin against a gracious God. We can admit that we are good and religious, but we have been going our own way. Like the popular song, “My Way”.
It is time we admit that Jesus is the savior for sin and acknowledge we need Him. We must, without reservation, acknowledge that it is time He takes the driver’s seat and we sit behind Him. If you can say the following, you will know the meaning of Christmas:
Lord Jesus, I need you so desperately that I am happy to give you the keys to my life and future, the keys of my destiny, my business, my marriage, my children, my everything. Today I commit my life unreservedly to You.
The Bible tells us that with that commitment you become children of the all-knowing powerful God…born from God. Understand, God longs for all of us to respond in repentance and faith. Merry Christmas.
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