Merry Christmas to family and friends, and other readers… and I mean that most sincerely. I am sure that we all have differing views of Christmas and Christ. That is what is to be expected. I see that often people, in order to be open and non-threatening, reduce the meaning of Christmas and Christ to not much more than love, giving, and sacrifice. Although the gospel includes these values and promotes them, such is not the heart of the Gospel.
In my master’s thesis, I showed that the early Christians did not view Jesus primarily as a great teacher. He was not seen as merely a kind, moral, wise, tender man… at least that is not what made him what he was to them. What Jesus was to the early Christians was a die-er and a riser. He died to pay for sins and rose again to conquer death and offer eternal hope. Jesus changed the structure of the universe by changing how God looked at mankind. His teaching, his pure life, his ministry, his healings, were all simply secondary and, to be blunt, minor elements of his work on earth.
This is the message of the Gospel and what the early followers heard and believed. This is the hope of Christmas. Humans can hope… and have a secure hope of what is their biggest problem… being cut off from God. Jesus, according to the texts, broke down a wall that separated sinful humans from a sin-hating God. Humans… all of them for whom he died, now have a hope of restoration, individual reconciliation, and rebirth because of what happened on those three days. This is a real and great hope!
It started with his birth… and as such, was the opening of the door of hope, giving, and sacrifice. God gave the world a baby die-er and riser… and indeed great was the gift.
Again, Merry Christmas…whether or not you celebrate the holiday, it is Christmas, and I hope that you find merriment and family warmth this day.