Christmas: God’s Greatest Message to Mankind
Jerusalem. The name means “city of peace” and yet “During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. The oldest part of the city was settled in the 4th millennium BC, making it one of the oldest cities in the world.”1
Located in the outskirts of Jerusalem—barely ten kilometers away—is Bethlehem. Here Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace,2 was born at Christmas two thousand years ago. But with the never ending conflict in this part of the world, one can’t help but wonder if the “city of peace” will ever find peace.
However, according to Biblical prophecy Jerusalem will find lasting peace but only when the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, returns to earth. This is why Jesus came to earth in the first place; that is, he came to fulfill the true meaning and message of Christmas which is as follows:
First, Christmas is a message about God. Christmas is not a message about religion. It's about having a right relationship with God. Religion tends to want to fix us from the outside in. God wants to fix us from the inside out. The first can become an impossible burden. The latter is what brings freedom. The real meaning of Christmas—and the best Christmas present ever—is personally experiencing God's divine love, divine acceptance and divine forgiveness.
It helps to realize that God isn't out to zap us for the wrongs we've done. In fact, no matter what we have ever done or have failed to do, God loves us with an everlasting love and has a wonderful purpose for our lives—for this life as well as the next! As Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."3 And again, "My purpose is to give life in all its fullness."4
If God is a God of love, why does
he allow so much suffering, sickness
and sadness in today's world?
Second, Christmas is a message about sin. Many people ask, "If there is a God and if he is a God of love, why does he allow so much suffering, sickness and sadness in today's world? Without sounding too simplistic this is because we have all sinned and separated ourselves from an infinitely holy God.5 It's not that God left us, but rather, we left God and separated ourselves from him. In so doing, we separated ourselves from his protection.
Another misconception about God is that he is out to punish us for our sins when, in fact, we bring sin's punishment on ourselves because sin has its own natural consequences. If we try to break the universal law of gravity, we can't. It will break us. Neither can we break God's universal moral law. When we do, it breaks us, and besides its painful effects in this life—suffering, sorrow, sickness and physical death—its ultimate and tragic consequence is spiritual or eternal death.
Third, Christmas is a message about Jesus Christ. God is not only a God of absolute holiness, but also a God of perfect justice. Because of this, all sin has to be judged, the just sentence of which is spiritual and eternal death, which is not the cessation of one's existence but eternal separation from a holy God6—the creator and author of all love and life—in the place the Bible calls hell.
God is also a God of infinite love and Christmas is the supreme expression and evidence of this love. Because of God's infinite love for us, he gave his own Son, Jesus Christ, who came to earth at the first Christmas in the form of a man and willingly died in our place on the cross of Calvary to pay the penalty for all our sins. Because Jesus was without sin, he was the only one qualified to die to pay the penalty for our sins. Had there been any other way to save mankind, Jesus would not have had to die for us.
Continued on Page Two