When we talk of Christmas, we are talking of our annual celebration of God’s gifts, focusing on the gift of Jesus Christ. Christmas is so abused with commercialization and politics that distilling it down to what it really is, is the knowledge of Christ that is the actual gift of the season. Focusing on Christmas without focusing on Christ is focusing on an empty vessel rather than the most precious cargo ever. He is a light for revelation to everyone, Jews and non-Jews alike. Let’s look at what Simeon said at the temple when Joseph and Mary brought the baby Jesus for His first blessing and Simeon’s final recorded act as a servant of God.
Simeon’s blessing – Luke 2:29-32
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
The quintessentially profound, personal value of knowing God runs only through knowing His Son. Regardless of one’s faith tradition, it is impossible to dismiss Christ as our only avenue to God without rejecting the rest of Bible. To be a Christian, is to believe the whole Bible, and the Bible is the key to knowing Jesus Christ. The book of John ties this together for us. We often get John 14:6 as a proof-text of the truth that Christ is the only way to God. It is important to see how Jesus teaches and assuages the pre-crucifixion doubt of “Doubting Thomas” as to the person and purpose of Jesus in context with the surrounding text:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
So we know we must know Jesus Christ to know or ever see God. It is this idea that ties the circle together between us, God, Jesus and the Bible. The only way we can be sure any communication we receive from God is actually from God, is to hear directly from God’s Word. The Bible is our one perfect, plenary, inerrant source for communication from God. We will certainly see Jesus in His servants, but our human, broken ability to reflect Him is far from perfect. It is only through the Bible that we can actually understand anything about God, and know how He is in our lives. For us, to know the Bible is to know Jesus as is made clear when we fully contemplate what the apostle John tells us at the beginning of his gospel:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:1-5
So there we have the power of Christmas in three passages. From God’s Word; his Scripture and prophecy in the Old Testament, and what God wrote on Simeon’s heart, we know we have “seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation.” We know that salvation rests only through Jesus Christ as He spoke to Thomas and the other apostles, saying “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We know that to know the salvation promised us in Jesus Christ, we must come by that knowledge through His Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” We can actually start understanding Christmas in just 3 Bible passages.
Christmas, at its worst, is a crass commercial enterprise or ugly political football. Christmas, at its best, is a mere reminder that Almighty God has given us a pathway to Him. It is the “bon voyage party” for us from our old life to an eternal life with God if we choose the path of knowing Jesus Christ, believing and living as He taught. Christmas can be the beginning of our relationship with Jesus Christ, and it can also be a great opportunity for Christians to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. Christmas really can be Jesus Christ if His people reflect Him and then hide themselves behind the salvation He gives us all.