If an alien comes to this earth during Christmas, can he identify Jesus as the reason for the season? There used to be a time when there was some acknowledgement of Christ during this time, however, today is a different story. It seems like every year the world finds created ways to celebrate Christmas without Christ.
Interesting Facts About Christmas
“The word Christmas is a shortened form of “Christ’s mass”, or “Cristes Maesse” as it was first recorded in 1038. This was followed by the term Cristes-messe in 1131, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia. The term “Christ” or Crīst comes from the Greek word Khrīstos, a translation of the Hebrew word Messiah, which means “anointed”. The second part of Christmas – maesse – is a version of the Latin word missa, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Interestingly enough, early Christians actively rejected the celebration of Christ’s birth as they saw birthdays as a pagan ritual, followed in the bible by figures like the Pharaoh.”
Let’s look at the events surrounding the birth of Christ as told by Luke. In this process we will look at 7 Christmas gifts available to humanity and the true definition of what Christmas should be all about. The Bible tells us in Luke 2:8-14
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (NIV)
The 7 Gifts of Christmas
- The Gift of Great Joy (Luke 2:10)
Joy is the word χαρά chará; meaning gladness. The Anxiety and Depression Association reports that 40 million Americans are affected by anxiety every year; that is 18% of the population. Depression and anxiety like to work together; about 50% of folks struggling with depression also struggle with anxiety and vice versa. While major depressive disorder can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32.5 years old. More prevalent in women than in men. Jesus offers the medicine against this mental health illness; Jesus offers Great Joy! It is possible to find temporary happiness without Jesus; what makes it temporary is that it is subject to circumstances and, we know that circumstances are ever-changing. Joy, on the other hand, is available in spite of our circumstances.
2. The Gift of Salvation (Luke 2:11)
After Adam and Eve’s fall, the world was condemned to hell. Nobody was, nobody is and, nobody will ever be good enough. That is because nobody is free from sin, nobody is innocent. We can’t save ourselves and we can’t make it to heaven on our own. The whole reason for Jesus to be born, to live among us, to die and to be resurrected was for the purpose of providing us a way out from hell. He is our Savior… the only Savior.
3. The Gift of Peace (Luke 2:14)
You can take all of the drugs and place them into two categories; one to hype you up and the other to slow you down. That is the cry of a human soul, we want to experience peace and joy. The Bible tells us that God offers a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). That means that we can actually have peace in the midst of the most horrible circumstances.
4. The Gift of the Light that Overcomes Darkness (Luke 2:32)
I know that there are denominations that do not believe in Christmas decorations, lights, etc. However, it is amazing to me that during Christmas we see beautiful lights everywhere. I don’t think this is a coincidence. Even though people may not understand the symbolism, Christmas lights are indeed symbolic of who Jesus is. Christ reveals himself as the Light to the Gentiles and shines his glory over Israel (Luke 2:32). In a world with so much darkness, how many of you can use some light? The light of Christ is available for you.
5. The Gift of Exposing of our Inner Most Thoughts (Luke 2:33-35)
The world is filled with a lot of hypocrisy; people pretending to be what they are not. This gift exposes the reality of who we really are. This gift may sound harsh, but it is the most liberating gifts. When we realize that we are sinners and need a Savior, Jesus is there for us and will show us the way.
There are two more gifts that are not added directly to the Christmas story, but are actually the essence of the Christmas story. These two gifts need a little more explanation.
A Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus went to see Jesus at night; he did not want to be seen. He had some profound questions for Jesus. In John 3 we see the story.
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. John 3:1-6 (NIV)
In this story Jesus introduced a concept for the first time in the history of humanity; the need to be born again as a prerequisite to eternal life with Jesus. He also explained that the born-again experience is not physical; it is spiritual. Are you born-again? The ultimate goal of these gifts is to awaken your spirit. The obvious question now is, how can I be born again? Paul gives us the answer in Romans 10:8-10,
But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (NIV)
What are we being saved from? The answer is hell. The Bible has a lot to say about hell. According to Matthew 25:41 hell was created for the devil and his angels; however, many humans will end up there also. When it comes down to the Bible, we must read the whole thing and understand that the whole thing is important. Everything is connected; everything written in the Word is not by accident, everything has a meaning. Therefore, salvation is not a matter of repeating a prayer or make empty confession; it is deeper than that. Ephesian 2:8 tells us,
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. (NIV)
The confession that Romans 10:8-10 speaks about is not your work; it is a confession of what God has already done in your heart. The next two gifts are the foundation of all the rest of the gifts, you can’t receive the other five gifts until you received this two.
6. The Gift of Grace:
The word grace means “An Undeserved favor.” Beloved, we did not deserve Jesus’ birth, life, sacrifice nor his resurrection. He did it for love; John 3:16 tells us, “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.” (NIV)
7. The Gift of Faith:
Faith is placing our trust in God. Nobody truly trusts God without God doing that work in their hearts first; we just don’t have that ability on our own. The Coronavirus, for example, is exposing how very little trust some folks, even in the church, have in God. A virus with a 97-99% survival rate has done what AIDS, Cancer, Diabetes or Heart Failures have not been able to do; paralyze our society in fear. The Bible tells us that without faith is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). He wants us to trust Him with our lives, with our families, with our jobs and with provision, regardless of what political party is in power or even in the midst of pandemics.
Hebrews 9:27 tells us, “…people are destined to die once, and after that face judgment,” (NIV) Whatever the destination of your soul is, it will be determined while you are alive.
I like to ask you a few questions and, I ask that you answer them in an honest manner:
- If you die right at this moment are you sure of what your destination will be?
- Do you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior?
- Do you believe that He died on the cross and that the Father raised him from the death on the third day?
- Do you believe that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father?
- Do you recognize that you are a sinner?
- Are you willing to repent for your sins right now?
- Are you willing to confess Jesus as your Savior and Lord at this very moment?
If you sincerely answered yes to all of these questions, good news! You are already a child of God! God is already doing a work in your heart. Your first act of obedience is to pray this prayer:
“Jesus, I repent of my sins, please forgive me! I believe and I am convinced that You are the Son of God, that You lived among us 2,000 years ago, that You died, and that God the Father raised You up on the third day. Jesus, I believe that You are at the right hand of the Father. You are welcome in my heart; You are welcome in my life! Be my leader! I declare that You are my Savior, and You are my Lord. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, help me die to self daily and help me be more and more like You. Give me revelation of Your Word and help me grow in all You want me to be and do. I belong to You; I am a part of the family of God. Show me the local church I am to be a part of. Strengthen me and help me persevere until the end. May Your will be done in my life and, help me to use all of the gifts You have given me, for Your glory and for the service of Your people. In Jesus name… Amen!”
Beloved, you are now a Born-Again Believer! Let me hear from you. I am here to help you and guide you as you take your first steps as a child of God. The 7 Gifts of Christmas and much more to come are now yours. They are yours free of charge; Jesus paid the price for each one of them! Take them!
 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).