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What Christmas is About
Whenever I watch “It’s A Charlie Brown Christmas” I marvel at the accuracy of Charles Shultz, because not only has he portrayed what Christmas has become, but what Christmas is all about.
Today Christmas is all about the decoration, trees, and gifts, especially this year as people are trying to forget what a terrible year it’s been. Christmas is now, more than ever before becoming a holiday, not a holy day. It’s become a time of feel good emotions and a time where we support our national economy while increasing our personal debt.
Like the Peanuts gang, most people know the story, but the real meaning of Christmas has made no effect on their lives. We’ve got the nativity sets, watch the made for TV specials, and even know that this is a celebration of Jesus’s birth, but like the Peanut’s gang we’re merely going through the motions without the meaning effecting and changing our lives.
Charlie Brown’s question, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” is not only the focal point of the cartoon, but it’s also the focal point of our time together.
Today, I’d like to take a look at Linus’s recitation of the Christmas story found in Luke’s Gospel. Let’s look at Luke’s account.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’” (Luke 2:8-14 NKJV)
So, what is Christmas all about? Let’s take a look through the angelic proclamation.
1. Releasing Our Fears
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” (Luke 2:10 NKJV)
There’s a whole slew of stuff we’re afraid of.
• Let’s start with that which is on everyone’s heart and mind today, and that is this current pandemic.
• We’re also afraid the economy will not recover and the national debt will continue to rise putting us into a deeper recession, or depression.
• We’re afraid of going to the doctors because we’re afraid of catching the COVID virus, or that the doctors will find something wrong with us.
• We’re afraid something bad will happen to our children and grandchildren.
• We’re afraid we might lose our jobs, our mortgage will be foreclosed on, or that our marriage might collapse.
There’s a lot we’re afraid of. But if we look carefully at our fears what they all boil down to is a fear of the unknown. What the future holds. This fear has kept us from entering into a full and complete relationship with God, and that’s because only God holds the future.
Fear cripples. It prevents rational thought, and so when the topics of death and God come up, fear cripples a person’s ability to look at what Jesus has done providing us a way out of our fears and into a life of peace.
So Christmas is all about releasing our fears, because God did not send His Son Jesus to scare us, but to save us. That’s why He came as a baby, because who’s afraid of a baby?
2. Finding Forgiveness
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 NKJV)
Our greatest need, humanity’s greatest need is salvation. Think about it.
• If our greatest need were information, then God would have sent a great educator
• If our greatest need were money, then God would have sent an economist
• If our greatest need were pleasure, then God would have sent an entertainer.
• But since our greatest need is to have our sins forgiven and to be brought into a right relationship with God, God sent a Savior.
The Bible says that there is no one righteous, no not one, and that we have all sinned, which is what is keeping us separated from God. This is why we need a Savior, to forgive our sins and to bring us into a right relationship with God.
This is another purpose for Christmas, and why the Father sent Jesus.
“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17 NLT)
The key to possessing eternal life in heaven is to have our sins forgiven, and to admit our need for a Savior and believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
But therein lies the rub. Many reject this suggestion, falsely believing that we’re really not all that bad, or at least not as bad as that other person.
The only problem is that God doesn’t grade our lives on a curve, nor are there different grades when it comes to being saved. It’s either pass or fail. If our sins are not forgiven then we don’t pass and we don’t go to heaven.
Heaven is a perfect place. It’s a place where God dwells, therefore it’s a place where there’s no sin. So unless our sins are forgiven, we’re not going to heaven, no matter how good we may think we are.
Our pride also makes us falsely believe that we can save ourselves.
I remember taking lifeguard lessons when I was a Boy Scout. Part of the training was to know when to grab hold of a drowning person in order to save their life. If the person was still trashing around we were to keep our distance until they gave up. In other words, as long was they were trying to save themselves, we couldn’t save them.
Until we quit trying to save ourselves and get to heaven, then Jesus cannot be our Savior.
But the good news is that Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost (Luke 9:10).
3. Procuring Peace
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” (Luke 2:14 NKJV)
The world has absolutely no substitute for the peace that Jesus offers. The world’s definition of peace is a cessation of fighting, a cessation of war, but as we all know this doesn’t last long. Worldly peace is short lived, and conflict quickly arises.
In another Peanut’s cartoon Lucy said to Charlie Brown
• “Charlie Brown, it’s the Christmas season. I think we ought to bury our differences, forgive each other and try to be kind and get along.”
• Charlie Brown responded, “Great! But why just this season? Why not all year?”
• And keeping true to form, Lucy said, “What do you think I am, some kind of fanatic?”
But Christmas is about real peace, a lasting peace. It’s about reconciliation with God.
This is why Jesus came, that through His death and resurrection, all who believe in Him will be reconciled with God, that is, they will have peace with him.
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ … For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:18a, 21 NKJV)
So what is Christmas all about? It’s about the Lord God, Jesus Christ, the second person of the Godhead, coming to earth to be born of a virgin, to live and die so we no longer need to fear the future, and so that we can have our sins forgiven, and be reconciled to God where we will live with Him for all eternity.
In the end, it’s our choice as to what we’re going to choose. Will we let the message change us and give us peace, or will we just say, good message and remain unchanged and still in our sins.
In the cartoon, Linus knew the answer, but it didn’t change his outlook. But when Charlie Brown heard it, his heart was changed. There was a new peace within and he no longer cared what others thought, and there was lightness to his step as he went back home.
When the shepherds heard the good news they searched out the Savior and were changed.
So, this year, my prayer is that we let the true meaning of Christmas change us?
Wednesday Evening Bible Study