What is the Real Meaning of Christmas? Depends on which Holiday Classic You Watch

Luke 2:11 “There is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

“Does anybody really know what Christmas is all about?” Starbucks answered that question two years ago with their red holiday cups, where customers can “tell their Christmas stories in their own way.” We get our annual dose of Hallmark Christmas specials where everybody’s lives work out perfectly because, of course, it’s the “magic of Christmas” that transforms lives. Are these the essence of the Christmas story?

Isn’t there a person behind the Christmas story? Isn’t Christmas a celebration of the birthday of a really famous person? Didn’t this person begin a movement that is very relevant to people’s lives today?

Can you imagine what would happen if, on January 15, our children were told in school to celebrate the story of the Civil Rights Movement in America by “telling their story their own way”? Or if, when we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, we were told not to mention his name? What if the “Stone of Hope” statue of Dr. King in Washington, DC, was removed because his “I Have A Dream” speech (“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope”) isn’t relevant to people’s lives today?

That would be absurd. Martin Luther King was a real person, whose weapons against racism and hatred were non-violence, love toward one another, and an orator’s skill to convict peoples’ hearts and minds with the truth that black men and women are equal in every respect with whites and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. He wasn’t perfect. He was a sinner like all of us. But he gave his life for the welfare of others. And he was murdered for it. So, it is important that we teach our children the real meaning behind Martin Luther King Day by establishing it on the birthday of its central figure.

Which brings us back to our opening question: “Does anybody really know what Christmas is all about?” This question comes from Charlie Brown in the holiday classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, one of the very few Christmas specials that celebrates the person and his achievements. The answer is given by Charlie Brown’s friend Linus, who quotes Luke 2:8-14 from memory and then ends with the statement “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” What is so special about Luke chapter 2, verses 8-14? Let’s read it and see if we get any insight into who this person is.

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them: and they were greatly afraid. 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. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.’”

What Linus wants all of us to understand in the Christmas story is that the Christmas baby born in a manger is God, and this God has a mission – to save mankind. As Pastor John MacArthur once said, “Christmas is not about the Savior’s infancy; it is about His deity. The humble birth of Jesus Christ was never intended to conceal the reality that God was being born into the world.”

Luke explains that this baby who is born in a manger is the reason for all people, everywhere and anywhere on the globe, to break out in great joy and give glory to God. And the birth of this baby is to usher in God’s peace and goodwill toward all mankind. This is the most significant event in the history of mankind – the birth of Jesus Christ. Why? Because these same verses explain that this baby is to be the Savior for all mankind. Jesus Christ is the Person who will shoulder the responsibility of freeing all mankind from the bondage of their sin, from that sin which separates them from having a personal relationship with God.

The baby born in a manger in Bethlehem is God the Father’s gift to mankind. Christmas is about gift-giving, but the origin of giving gifts to others begins with God giving all of us the gift of His only begotten Son. As Paul says in the book of Romans, “The wages, or reward, for every one of our sins is death, but the free gift from God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

This is the meaning of Christmas that Charles Schultz, in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, told America more than 50 years ago. It’s all about a Person – His name is Jesus Christ, the Savior and Lord of all mankind. What could possibly be more relevant to people’s lives? Just ask anyone who knows Him.


“The Evidence of Faith’s Substance”, Article #275 – December 24, 2017

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