“Christmas is for kids.” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that said in Decembers gone by. To be sure, many December festivities do focus on kids whether school plays or even church Christmas concerts. And of course, who doesn’t spend much energy and hard-earned money on their children [and grandchildren] during ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?’ Marketing strategy banks on the growing expectations of our wee ones. Television specials often target children; as I write I soon expect a deluge of old favourites such as ‘Rudolph’ and ‘Frosty.’ Even the modern day Santa with his flying reindeer and incredible (if not impossible) capacity to deliver to every household in every part of the world every toy ever requested by every boy and girl serves to cater to the fascination, imagination and delight of every child.
Biblically, there are several issues which could be addressed in response to these things. But I limit myself to just one. The statement made by so many – including many inside the visible church – that ‘Christmas is for kids’ is misguided. Christmas, as defined and celebrated by the church, is not for children, but for sinners. For as Paul writes, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (First Timothy 1:15).
This ‘trustworthy statement’ demands that we note two things. First, it beckons that we consider the person and work of Jesus Christ. Space limits what I can say here. However, consider at least this much: Christ came into the world. He who is the sovereign ruler of the universe became a humble servant. He who is eternal and transcends time entered into time and was subject to time. The One through whom and by whom all things were made took the form of that which was made. Vacating the incomprehensible glory of His heavenly and holy throne, exchanging it for an earthly and common feeding trough, Christ, God of very God, took on humanity. By leaving His home, he left majesty for misery, and the dwelling place of righteousness for a world of wickedness.
Second, this ‘trustworthy statement’ commands that we reflect on the mission of Jesus Christ. He came into the world “to save sinners.” In understanding just who these sinners are, it is intensely instructive for us to consider that Paul, the human writer of these words, considered himself to be “foremost of all.” In other words, Paul calls himself the chief of sinners, the very worst of the very worst. How could this be? Is it not true that Paul was the human author of 13 New Testament books, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God, and blameless according to that righteousness which is in the Law? Is it not true therefore that the Apostle Paul was “an incredibly good person?” It is true that Paul, by God’s grace, did much for God. It is not true, however, that he was a good person. The Bible clearly states that there are no good people. ‘There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10; cf. Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3). This is a universally inclusive statement. No one is good; this includes you and me. And so, as the spider hangs from its web above the floor, we dangle by a thread over the fiery pit of hell. But this is the joy of Christmas: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!” Embrace Him! He is truly good!