I will never forget my first Christmas as a Christian. I was 29 years old. Before then I was hopelessly lost. Raised in the church, I had a religion but not a relationship. Raised to be moral, in my disillusionment and loneliness I became immoral. I actually raised my fist, cursed God and said, “I am going to find someone to love me.”
Little did I know that in spite of my cursing, God loved me as no one ever could. That’s what Ephesians 1:3–6 teaches! Read it aloud. Circle the time reference in green, as I’ve taught you through this column for the past year and a half. (Do this for every Scripture you read in this article.)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
Knowing what I just shared about myself, you can understand that the day of my spiritual birth was marked by a radical change–change wrought only by the power of the indwelling Christ. It was July 16, 1963. As my first real Christmas approached, all I could think was, Born to die! Jesus was born to die! Born to die so that I, who was dead in my sins, might have life! What wonder this knowledge brought.
Have you ever stopped to wonder, When did God conceive Christmas in His heart? The answer brings awe! Not only do we have the truth of Ephesians 1 that you just read, but in Revelation 13:8 Jesus is described as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (NKJV). Circle the time reference phrase.
Why from the foundation of the world? Because an all-knowing God knew man would believe the serpent’s lie, take the forbidden fruit and die. He knew that sin, as Romans 5:12 says, would be passed on to all mankind and bring death. So God intervened before it ever happened. He planned our redemption so He could re-create us in His image. Read Romans 8:29–30.
When God spoke and brought the world into existence, Christmas was on His heart. Christmas is all about Jesus, the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world! It’s about Jesus, God’s gift of redemption–born to die in my place and your place, for my sins and your sins, because the wages of sin is death. Write it down; post it on the refrigerator or the bathroom mirror: “Jesus–born to die that I might live!” No matter who you are, what you have done, you were pre-loved by God!
On Dec. 25 you and I and Christians around the world will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. In reality, we do not know precisely when Jesus was born. Nothing in the Scriptures tells us. The annual feasts celebrated by Israel foreshadow His death and resurrection, not His birth. The exact when–the day of His birth–is not the issue; what matters is the time. Galatians 4:4–5 tells us that “when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
Christmas came in God’s time–the fullness of time. Circle the phrase!
The One first promised in Genesis 3:15 to Adam and Eve after they sinned–the One who would bruise the head of Satan, the serpent of old–was finally born. All the writings of Moses and the prophets pointed to this time. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days [in the fullness of time] has spoken to us in His Son” (Hebrews 1:1–2). The problem is, many are not listening so as to truly hear, and many are not believing–really believing–so as to live according to the truth of what Jesus came to accomplish.
When I was a child, Christmas seemed wonderful, exciting! The holiday season was filled with family and friends, goodies to eat, songs to sing, presents to give and receive. But with adulthood came a void. Something was missing. I didn’t realize the something was a Someone. The amazing thing is that Jesus was there all the time. But I didn’t know Him. I knew His name. I had a Bible in my house. I went to church. I thought I was a Christian. However, I simply hadn’t moved from a religion to a relationship. Then it finally happened.
All through the Old Testament, God shouts, “Christmas is coming! The Promised One is coming. The One who will fill the void in your life is coming.” In Isaiah 7:14, God gave a prophecy to His people: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”
Immanuel means “God with us,” and that’s exactly what Christmas is all about: letting Jesus fill that God-shaped void inside. The joy of Christmas is knowing that if you’ve received the gift of His Son–truly received Him as your Savior and Lord–you’ll never be alone. It’s knowing Jesus will never leave you, never forsake you (Hebrews 13:5) If your Christmas season seems empty, could it be that you’ve missed the Someone of Christmas?