This week's thought comes to you from the well-known contemporary preacher/author -- John MacArthur. The title of his message speaks for itself. Many others have tried to offer an answer to this same question, though in this excerpt -- selected for your Christmas consideration -- he offers his. Other things could be added, but one cannot leave out what he says and still be true to what the Bible wants us to know about Jesus birth. Enjoy.
What is the real meaning of Christmas?
The answer may just surprise you. For many, Christmas is the time to think of Jesus Christ as a baby in a manger. While the birth of Christ is a special and miraculous event, it isn't the primary focus. The central truth of the Christmas story is this: the Child of Christmas is God. 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...
I don't suppose anyone can ever fathom what it means for God to be born in a manger. How does one explain the Almighty stooping to become a tiny infant? Our minds cannot begin to understand what was involved in God's becoming man...Yet He did... One passage in particular, written by the apostle Paul, captures the essence of Jesus' divine nature and underscores the truths that make Christmas truly wonderful -- Colossians 1:15-20 -- where Paul writes:
"He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation, for in Him all things were created... All things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross."
Ironically, some of the cults that deny Jesus' deity try to use Colossians 1:15-20 to support their view. They suggest, for example, that the phrase "the image of the invisible God" (v. 15) hints that Jesus was merely a created being who bore the image of God in the same sense as all humanity. But the truth is though we were created in God's likeness, we only resemble Him. Jesus, on the other hand, is God's exact image. The Greek word translated "image" means a perfect replica, a precise copy, a duplicate. Paul was saying that God Himself is fully manifest in the Person of His Son, who is none other than Jesus Christ. He is the exact image of God. Jesus Himself said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9)... Hebrews 1:3 makes an identical affirmation: "He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature."
Christ is to God what the warm brilliance of light is to the sun. He brings God from a cosmic location to the very hearts of men and women. He gives light and life. He reveals God's very essence. They cannot be divided. Neither has ever existed without the other -- they are one (John 10:30). Scripture repeatedly says that God is invisible (John 1:18; 5:37; 1 Timothy 1:17; and Colossians 1:15). But through Christ the invisible God has been made visible. God's full likeness is revealed in Him.
Colossians 1:19 takes the truth a step further: "It was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him." He is not just an outline of God, He is fully God. Colossians 2:9 is even more explicit: "In Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form." Nothing is lacking. No attribute is absent. He is God in the fullest possible sense, the perfect image...Colossians 1:16-17 explicitly name Him as Creator of everything. "By Him all things were created..."
Christ is not part of creation; He is the Creator, the very arm of God, active from the beginning in calling the universe and all creatures into existence. John 1:3 says, "All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." That could not be true if He were Himself a created being... The size of the universe is incomprehensible... Who made all that? The babe in Bethlehem. He made everything."
With prayers for your Christmas observance to be a holy and joyful one, Pastor Jeff