For most people December brings along with the cold and winter some special feelings. We have all heard the statement, “the feeling of Christmas is in the air”. In December we begin to see the Christmas lights and decorations of tinsel. We see many nativity scenes, some of which are equipped with live animals. We experience the overstocked and busy stores. We see Santa Klaus in department stores bidding children to sit on his lap and leave their Christmas wishes. We soon see gifts wrapped and placed under the tree. All of these things remind us that Christmas time is here again. This is a season that special feelings cause heightened reactions. It is a season of cranky sales clerks, quick trips to the mall, a season in which we spend more than we have, and eat more than we need. But Christmas is much more than all of that. Christmas is a time of celebration. It is the celebration of the birth of our Lord.
Christmas seems to become more eloquent each year. The first Christmas tree in America was lit in 1832 by Professor Charles Follen. For those who lived at that time, who would have ever guessed that the decorations would have become as elaborate as they are today. It has been a long time since that first Christmas tree was lit, but much longer still from that silent and holy night we sing about when the night was brightened by a special star when Jesus was born. Yet, as we approach December 25th, the date Pope Julius I authorized in A.D. 353 to be celebrated as the birthday of Jesus, we are given another opportunity to pause in the midst of all the excitement to again consider the event of Christmas and the person whose birth we celebrate.
Christmas is much like many of the national holidays we celebrate. These holidays are also birthday celebrations of great men who developed America into what it is today. These holidays are named after the men we celebrate, such as Washington’s birthday or Lincoln’s birthday. These men have mercifully given us the America we are so proud to claim. Christmas is also the birthday of a man who we should admire and give honor to for what He has done for us and given us. We also should be proud to claim what He so graciously has given us.
As we celebrate Christmas, we must remember that Jesus Christ is the heart of Christmas. It is in His name that we gather together and celebrate. The apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 4:5 it is about Jesus we preach, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
When we celebrate the birthday of a great man in history, we think about the kind of man He was. As we celebrate Christmas the question should also come to our mind is, what kind of Man was this whose birthday splits time into B.C. and A.D.? To answer that question let us ask that question three different ways.
1. What does the Bible say about Jesus?
The Bible is the source book which provides our basic information about Jesus. The Bible writers all affirm that first of all Jesus was a man. We believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, but it was not the actual birth that was supernatural. It was the conception that was supernatural. Jesus was born as any baby would be born.
Jesus also grew up like any other person. While working as a carpenter, Jesus experienced what other carpenters experienced. His hands showed signs of using the tools of the trade. After a hard day He was tired just as other men were. Jesus had to walk the roads of Palestine just like others had to do. His feet got tired and dirty, and His legs became weary. Physically, emotionally, and intellectually, Jesus lived the same as all men lived.
There is more from the Bible writers than describing Him as a common man. They could not talk of Jesus without referring to a mysterious part in Him. Jesus was also divine. He was filled with such a divine uniqueness that the writers called Him, Emmanuel, which means “God with us”. They meant that in Jesus they could feel God’s presence, a feeling they could not feel in any other man.
Jesus was a man, but He was different from any other man who ever lived. There had never been another man like Him, nor would there ever be. The Bible affirms Jesus was the most unique man who ever lived. He was a man that can only be explained by declaring Him God in human form.
2. What did Jesus say about Himself?
When we consider what Jesus said as recorded by the New Testament writers, we see that He matched the claims about Himself that they had made.
Jesus said that He was the way to God, “that no one can come to the Father but by Him”.
Jesus said that to believe in Him meant to have life, but to refuse to believe in Him meant to miss what life was all about.
Jesus said His connection with God was so close that to know Him was to know God; to see Him was to see God; and to believe in Him was to believe in God.
The most incredible thing about the claims Jesus made of Himself was that He backed up His claims with the life He lived. He lived such a life of purity that those closest to Him gave this testimony of His life: “He committed no sin. No guilt was found on His lips.” Jesus exhibited such power over the lives of men that many were healed merely by His touch. He showed such compassion that no one was outside the limits of His love. He lived a life like no man has ever lived.
3. What does history say about Jesus?
Jesus has the unique ability to come through the centuries as a living Lord and to challenge men and women of all generations to follow Him. Here are a couple of testimonies:
“All that I am I owe to Jesus”, quoted by David Livingstone, a pioneer who labored long years in Africa.
“All my life I looked for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and I found it at the foot of the cross”, quoted by movie star Dale Evans, who later in life became a spokesperson for Jesus.
Thousands of testimonials such as these can be found. These testimonials from history confirm the testimonies of the Bible about Jesus and the declarations of Jesus about himself. He was the most unique man that ever lived. A man whose uniqueness can only be explained by the presence and power of God in His life.
The most important question we can ask to determine what kind of man Jesus was is, What do you say about Him? This is the most important question because the answer will determine your eternal destiny. You only have two options. You can accept Him as who He says He is. You can say, “I believe Jesus is the most unique man who has ever lived, and I believe His uniqueness can be confirmed by the fact that He was God himself living among us.” Or, you can say, He was the biggest liar in history and His lies laid the foundation for history’s greatest mockery and foolishness.
Your answer to this most important question will determine whether or not you experience the true meaning of Christmas.
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