Jesus Christ will have little part in most holiday celebrations again this year. In many homes He will be forgotten beneath a pile of Christmas trees, wax candles, electric lights, religious ceremonies, and gift wrappings. Many will have a big time; they will celebrate what amounts to a great winter carnival. Many can say:
The fun of wrapping parcels,
The smell of Christmas tree;
Feasts and fun and giving—
That’s what Christmas means to me.
But the event remembered at Christmas time must be more than mere trivia. Here it is—about two thousand years since Jesus was born, and we still commemorate His birth. Why should one baby boy cause a world-wide celebration?
The baby born in Bethlehem was named Jesus, and he was named “Jesus” because He would save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). The Scriptures again and again, from the first preaching of the Gospel in Genesis 3:15 to the final praise of the ransomed hosts in Heaven, declare the necessity of Jesus’ birth so that He could die for sinners. The Bible says “Ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins” (1 John 3:5).
Several years ago at Christmas, the governor of California granted thirty-seven pardons to prisoners. Other governors from coast to coast did the same thing. Christmas is an appropriate time for the granting of pardons, because it is the time when we are commemorating the birthday of Him who came to earth to secure pardon for us all. The tragedy is that many don’t feel any need of pardon. Many don’t realize how they have sinned against God. Yet the Bible assures us that “every imagination of (man’s) heart is only evil continually,” and that “there is none good but God.” All of us—you and I included—have sinned and come short of the standard of God’s excellence.
God’s perfect justice demands that He punish sin. He cannot just pass it by. But being a God of love, and not willing to cast us into Hell, He sent Jesus into the world. Jesus was born as a human being so that He could become the sacrificial offering for man’s sin. His death atones for our sins and brings peace and reconciliation between our guilty souls and a holy God (Colossians 2:2023). For those who believe (with an obedient faith) the message about the coming and death of Jesus, God offers a pardon. He absolves the sinner of charges against him. That is why the Bible speaks of the coming of Jesus as “God’s unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15). If you have never accepted the pardon God offers, there is no better time to do it than today.