Christmas, a baby, and a barn

Christmas for many is full of decorations, lights, glitter, and gifts. The reason for Christmas had none of that tinsel and garb, just a gift.
Thomas Kinkade’s “Village Christmas”

What makes Christmas exciting? What is the best part of the season? For many it is presents under the tree. For others it is the lights, music, decorations, and Santa. Maybe for you it’s the tree covered with ornaments, snow on the ground, or family gatherings. Or maybe it’s the overall good cheer and magic of the holiday season or watching a child’s elation when they see Rudolph’s red nose in the night sky.

Each of these is a wonderful, joyous thing that helps create lasting memories. But are these what make Christmas exciting? Are they the most exciting parts of the season?

Imagine what Christmas would be if we removed those things we cherish. Take away the lights, presents, and tree. No more music, decorations, or snow. Gone are Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty. Take away each of them and all that remains is a baby in a barn.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of going from one store to another, cooking, and decorating, the heart of Christmas is forgotten. Without the birth of Jesus there would be no Christmas.

When Jesus was born among the animals and laid in a manger, there were no colored lights on the roof, no presents under an ornament-covered tree, and Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” did not fill the airwaves. Rather, most people went about their daily lives unaware that anything special had occurred.

Thomas Kinkade’s Nativity Set

He was born to a family of modest means with hay and a feeding trough as his bed, yet the heavens celebrated his birth with a joyous chorus, angels told shepherds to see the child, visitors came from far-away lands to worship the newborn, and the government wanted him dead. Indeed Jesus’ arrival was a momentous, joyous, and miraculous occasion.

However, the birth itself is not as significant as the reason for it. Over one hundred prophecies given over many centuries foretold the birth of the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior; Jesus’ birth fulfilled every one. Nevertheless, the purpose is far more significant: Jesus was born to die.

Jesus came to this earth not merely to live as a man, but to give his life to pay the penalty for man’s sin. Jesus sacrificed his life to give salvation to all who believe in him; to save everyone who puts their faith in Jesus as their only hope of eternal life. All who believe in their heart that Jesus died to pay for their sin, and confesses with their mouth that he rose again will be saved. This is the joy of Christmas.

Born in a barn, died on a cross, and rose again to glory, Jesus is the excitement of Christmas; Jesus is the best part of Christmas. As believers, it should be our joy to gather each Christmas and worship our Lord and celebrate his birth. It should also be our joy to share the good news with others so they can join in celebrating and worshiping God in Christ.

May you rediscover the true joy of Christmas this year. May you renew your commitment to Christ and experience the passion of a heart filled with divine glory, peace, and joy.

About John L. Rothra
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