For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6, esv).
We all have favorite memories of Christmas. Maybe it’s a family tradition, a vivid scene from childhood, a special song, or the first snow that evokes Christmas for you. It might be an aroma like mulled cider, evergreens, or Christmas dinner. The scenes and tastes of the season are wonderful things, but none of them are Christmas.
Those warm memories are ours to enjoy, as long as we don’t make them the main thing. It’s not me-mas; it’s Christ-mas. Without Jesus there would be no celebration. Without Christ, there is no Christmas. There’s only something a lot less.
Christmas is about giving—it’s about what God has given to us. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” In that phrase we find summarized all the wonder of the Incarnation—God becoming flesh and dwelling among us (John 1). The human side of Jesus was the child born, and all the lessons wrapped up in the timing, location, and status of His birth stand alongside the awesome truth that the baby in the manger was God’s Son given to us and for us.
Then, like now, the world was largely oblivious to what God was doing. The Roman census was a grand opportunity for travel, profit, and networking—but also a source of stress for many. Yet in the middle of all that frantic human activity, God came to earth. Only those who were attentive knew; only those willing to be directed saw the newborn. God came to His own, John tells us, “and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11). God didn’t make a grand entrance. He came under cover as one of us.
Jesus’ arrival in Bethlehem fulfilled not only Isaiah’s prophecy but also God’s purposes all the way back to the fall of humanity. It was in the Garden of Eden that God first promised Christmas. While Adam and Eve listened in, He informed Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Jesus was the gift God gave to satisfy the longing within us from the beginning. As the carol writer put it, “The hopes and fears of all the years” were met in Bethlehem that night.
When you realize God came to earth on a mission, Christmas becomes truly life-changing. He revealed Himself as accessible. Jesus is Emmanuel—God with us. He put the glory of God on display at the human level. As John wrote of the Jesus he knew: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
When you grasp that Jesus came with you in mind, willing to do whatever it took to make you fit for eternity with Him, that gift in the manger takes on personal significance. Have you received that gift—God’s Son—as your Savior?
If you miss God’s glory at the heart of the story, you miss Christmas. Don’t get distracted from the best part. This year, sit among the events and moments that surround the Savior’s birth and remember God’s glory is the center of it all, seen in His Son Jesus Christ.
Lord, thank You for everything that Christmas means. Help the good memories to spotlight Your Son rather than distract from Him. Help me to be thankful for every good thing that comes along with Jesus, but most of all, thank You that through Him You saved me and made abundant life possible. Glory to You in the highest! In the name of Jesus, my King, amen.