Christmas has become so complex, so chaotic, so confusing with all the stuff that the reality of the simplicity of the birth of Christ has been blended into the fantasy and lost its significance.
Christmas should be simple, not complex, but very simple. Christmas should be stripped of all of its trappings so that all that is left is the simplicity of God becoming man. That is the only element in the Christmas seasonal celebration that has in it any lasting power to effect life.
There’s no lasting value in any earthly gift or any earthly sentiment expressed. The tree always dies. There is no power in Santa Claus. There’s no power in lights, pretty wrappings or shiny bows.
But what is it about Christ that gives this hope? What is it about Christ that gives us joy in deep sadness? What is it about Christ that provides comfort in loneliness? What is it about Christ that gives peace in fear? One simple look at the birth of the Son of God should tell us the answer to that question.
“She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us)” Matthew 1:21-23.
Luke 2:11 says He would “be born a Savior.” Mark 10:45 says the Son of Man has come to save. That is a glorious reality. The apostle Paul, writing in Ephesians 1:7, says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.” Now the implication here is that men are sinners and that sin is a damning reality from which man needs to be saved or delivered or rescued. And Jesus came into the world to save you from your sins.
In what sense? To save you from the ultimate consequence of your sins, namely eternal damnation. To save you, as well, from even the present domination of your sin. But primarily and ultimately, He came to save you in the sense that He delivers you and He delivers me and He delivers all who believe in Him from the ultimate damnation that sin requires.
You see, He was a child born to provide forgiveness for sins. Israel’s great holy day is called the day of atonement. Annually, the ancient Jews celebrated that one day in which a great offering was given for all the sins of all the people through the previous year.
And on that day, according to Leviticus chapter 16, the high priests would select two sacrificial goats. One of those goats was killed, slaughtered, and His blood was splattered all over the altar as a sacrifice for sin. As a symbol of the need for death with regard to sin.
But the other animal was not killed. The high priest would go to the other goat and put His hands on that goat, symbolically transferring the sins of all the people onto that goat, and then that goat was taken into the wilderness so far away that it could never find its way back or be seen again. Symbolically, God ordained that simple and graphic ceremony to show that where there was a sacrifice for sins, there was a removal of sin so that they would never, ever be brought to attention again.
Now that goat that was slaughtered couldn’t really pay the price. It could only symbolize the one who could. And that goat that carried sin out into the wilderness symbolically couldn’t really carry away sin, but it symbolized the one who could. And it didn’t take two; it only took one, Jesus, who both gave the sacrifice for sin and carried our sins away.
In fact, the word “to forgive,” means “to send away, to dismiss.” It is used in legal terminology to refer to canceling a debt or granting a pardon. So through His death on the cross, Jesus took the sins of all of us on Himself and died our death as a blood sacrifice for our sins, and then carried them away an infinite distance from where they will never return again.
The Bible speaks of this. In Psalm 103:12 it says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgression from us.” How far is the east from the west? That’s infinite.
This was a child born to take away sin. To pay the price for our sin so we don’t have to pay that price. That is why Paul says, “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1. No judgment to us. Why? Because the judgment fell on Christ. He will save His people from their sins.
And He has done that. He paid the price. He died the death that we would have had to die and He carried our sins so far away even God will never again consider their existence. Just because of who He is, just for His own purpose, just for His own glory, He forgave all your sins.
What a blessed reality that Jesus Christ came into the world to forgive sin. That doesn’t mean that we don’t commit sin. We do. And that doesn’t mean that sin won’t have harmful effects in this life. Because it does. What it does mean is we will never pay the ultimate penalty for sin. It’s been paid. We will never die eternally. We will never spend a moment in hell. We will go from this life into heaven.
At Christmas when you see the Child, see who He is. Immanuel, God with us. He was hungry. He was thirsty. He was tired. He slept. He learned. He was glad. He was sad. He was angry. He was grieved. He was troubled. He was disappointed. He was tearful. He was overcome by the prospect of future events. He exercised faith. He read the Scripture. He prayed. He sighed with an aching heart. He felt everything. You say your life is in danger? His was always in danger. You say you’ve been mistreated and misjudged? So was He.
And as you look at that little baby in the manger, that is the Christmas reality. What a child! Jesus, He saves His people from their sins. Immanuel, He is God with us. Sympathetic high priest. Able to understand and to aid us.
His name is not Jesus, Immanuel, King, Christ because He’s our example. His name is not Jesus, Immanuel, King, Christ because He’s our teacher. His name is not Jesus, Immanuel, King, Christ because He is our guide. His name is not Jesus, Immanuel, King, Christ because He’s our friend. He is all of that, but His name is Jesus because He saves us from our sins. His name is Immanuel because He is our sympathizing strengthener. He is God with us. His name is King because He’s our sovereign and the sovereign of the universe. And His name is Christ because He is the source of our life.
Listen, no matter what deprivation a man or a woman might experience, no matter how lonely your life might be, no matter how sad it might be, no matter how painful your situation, no matter how bleak the Christmas season, no matter what dungeon or prison cell you might find yourself in, no matter how strong your fears and how terrifying the prospects of the future to you might be, if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you can see through to the One who has forgiven all your sins.
And in that, there is fullness of joy. You do not need to fear that your difficulty is God’s way of making you offer full atonement for your own iniquity. Not so. You, no matter what goes wrong in this life, no matter what is not the way you would like it, no matter how much unfulfillment you face, know this… You have complete and perfect forgiveness for all your sins through Jesus Christ if you place your faith in him and you will never pay for your sins. Christ has done that. Christ has done that!
And when you know all that, and when you believe all that, and when you confess all that, then you have seen through the trappings, through the simplicity of the birth of Christ. That will make your Christmas significant. Really significant. If you’ll do what Hebrews 12:2 says, “Fix your eyes on Jesus,” King Jesus, Christ Jesus, Immanuel, it ought to make it the greatest Christmas for you too.