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Communion Meditations (2017)

Purpose of Christmas

Originally scheduled for December 24

Christmas is, for most of us, a cheerful time of year. God as a little baby in the manger doesn’t seem to threaten anyone, nor demand of them anything much more than a smile. It’s a wonderful time, and it seems to leave no lasting impact other than a large surplus of used wrapping paper. But the truth is different: Christmas, the incarnation of Christ, was part of God’s plan and not an incidental part. CS Lewis called it “the supreme miracle” — from the miracle of the incarnation all other Christian miracles depend. This is the birth promised throughout the Old Testament, by prophecy and by song. It is not an afterthought on the part of God. Indeed, the birth of Christ was a virgin birth. Jesus had no biological father except God the Father. Many students of the Scripture hold that this is very important, because it means that Jesus would not inherit original sin as descended from Adam. The birth of Jesus is part of God’s preparation of the salvation of mankind.

This is best seen in the light of the Atonement. Some 33 years later Jesus will go to the cross to be the atonement sacrifice for all mankind. See how his birth and ancestry affect this:

·         Jesus is God in the flesh. God being the sum of all perfections, this implies that Jesus is sinless and had a sinless life. Viewed as a sacrifice, he would be considered an unblemished sacrifice suitable for atonement.

·         He is also fully human. You will recall in the Old Testament that certain animals were acceptable for sacrifice; others were considered unclean. By the example of Abraham and Isaac, the human being is an acceptable sacrifice. Christ was born of Mary so that he might be that sacrifice.

·         He is also the sign of God’s love for mankind. We know that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend; that is exactly what God did on the cross. It could not have happened if there had not been a manger scene.

So you see that this was the plan from the very beginning of time. We are commanded to remember the sacrifice at Calvary. We are to eat the bread and drink the wine in memory of the sacrifice he made. Is this important? Let’s put it this way; salvation comes by the cross — there is no other way. The birth of Jesus in the manger was just as essential to this as the rest of his life. Jesus Christ was born to die.

Without Christmas there is no Easter. Without Easter, there is no hope.

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