Christmas is not about death

It is a week from Christmas. I don’t typically write holiday oriented blogs. When I first started this blog a year ago, I did write a series called Revolutionary Christmas. (Click the link for the first part of the series.) I wanted to discuss the meaning of Christmas. This year, as always, I find myself agonizing because of the overabundance of materialism and holiday hype. Sometimes I think that we as Christians want a Santa Claus in the clouds. When you go to church, you hear messages about the cross, and how Jesus died for us. We might use texts of Jesus’ birth and the glorious promises given to the shepherds, Mary, the wise men, and Joseph, but we typically use the message to direct us to how Jesus died for us. Is that really the Christmas message?

Humbug.

It means “deception”.

When I read my Bible, and I see the reaction of those who hear this news of God’s Messiah being born, I can’t help but wonder what it was that they thought it meant for the Anointed King to be born. For example, the Magi go to Herod and ask where this King of the Jews has been born (Matthew 2:1). It says that when King Herod hears this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. Why? The angel appears to Mary and tells her that she shall bear a son and that “the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” Upon hearing this, Mary then goes to her cousin Elizabeth’s home and they rejoice together for the good news of God. Why this ecstasy? Notice in Luke 2, when the angels declare to the shepherds about this child that is born that there is no mention of the cross.

It is ironic that on every holiday we want to discuss Jesus’ crucifixion. Then, on Good Friday, when He was crucified, we talk about Jesus’ resurrection. Yet, when it comes Easter Sunday, we talk about His crucifixion. Interesting…

We find very few places where the cross is mentioned in the Gospels compared to the overwhelming point being made that the Kingdom of God has come. To the first century disciples, it wasn’t about Jesus’ death upon the cross. That was only one point of the overall story. As crucial as it is, what the disciples were exclaiming is that God has sent His Son into this world to redeem it. Through the Word, God created all things at the beginning. Now, God has sent His Son to be the mediator. God has entered flesh and blood, thus through the Word, God is recreating all things.

The kingdoms of this world that are built up upon oppression, greed, lust, ambition, pride, manipulation, force, intimidation, fear, angst, hostility, and coercion are finished. God has established His own Kingdom, and that Kingdom is one of freedom, peace, humility, righteousness, justice, mercy, purity, and love. It is actually in the submission unto death that the powers of darkness were disarmed. In the wisdom of God, by fully submitting unto that hostility and hatred, Christ made a mock out of the principalities and powers. He displayed that there is power in even death – that when the righteous lays down his life for his friends, life is obtained for both he and all of his friends.

The Christmas story is not about death. It is about a Kingdom. It is about the life that comes to those that are willing to step out from the systems of men to be branded with the reality of heaven. Christmas is about hope. The Kingdom of God has come crashing into this cosmos, and it isn’t going away. Those who are oppressed, and those who are persecuted, and those who are mocked, come. Come unto the Kingdom of God. It is here and here alone that we find hope. It is in this Kingdom that we find peace. While Herod and all of Jerusalem are oppressing the people, taxing them 80-90% of their paychecks, a new King emerges who will set the captive free. That system that calls itself God’s kingdom is false and is going down.

You who are broken, you who are living in a society that everyone is saying works, but it isn’t working for  you, come. While Caesar is “bringing peace” to the world by crucifying every town and city and people that do not bow down to him and call him lord, there is another Son of God that has entered the world. He has submitted to that same crucifixion that is being threatened to all of us if we don’t “go with the flow”, and in taking up death upon that cross, has offered life to all. It isn’t about death; it is about life. Unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government of God will be on his shoulders. Don’t you see? The cross fits into the puzzle, but it isn’t the whole of the puzzle.

It is about Emmanuel – God with us. It is about a God that would strip Himself of His own Deity and come to this earth in human flesh and blood. It is about a God that has at his core a heart of servanthood. That is the Christmas message. As He has been revealed, so we also reveal Him. As He has served, so we also go out and serve. As He has taken up the cause of the oppressed, and freed the captive, so too do we take up the cause of the oppressed and free the captives. Christmas is about the culture of heaven. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all, amen.

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