Why Christmas?

By Not Known

The Christmas carols of the Bible give important clues about what happened at
Christmas and what its purpose is.

Today we look at a ‘carol’ from Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist (Lk

Zechariah writes about John’s birth and ministy, but makes it clear that John is
understood in the light of his relative, Jesus (v76). As an act of mercy, God was
providing redemption, salvation and forgiveness of sins in faithful remembrance
of his covenant promises to Abraham (vs68-78).

The names of the Christmas characters tell of all this. Zechariah’ means that
‘God remembers’. ‘Elizabeth’ means that ‘God is an oath’. ‘John’ means ‘God is
gracious or merciful’ and ‘Jesus’ means that ‘God saves’.

So, the coming of Jesus brought salvation through the forgiveness of sins and this
was an act of God’s faithfulness and mercy.

What was the intended purpose of this salvation?

Zechariah’s song states it like this:

to rescue us from the hand of our enemies
and to enable us to serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days,

God delivers us in order that we should fearlessly (or boldly) serve him in
holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.

We need reminding of this today. We easily reduce the gospel to what
Bonhoeffer called ‘cheap grace’, Cheap grace is coming to Jesus to get life
insurance for eternity through a casual declaration of faith. This cheap grace is
not Jesus’ message. He calls us to take up our cross, deny ourselves and follow
him. This means turning life upside down, so that we live with love of God and
neighbour rather than the self-love of cheap grace.

Seen in this way, Christmas is a time when God challenges us in the most
demanding way. The coming of God the Son calls us to a life of active
discipleship with a strong ethical edge of holiness.

Are you living out God’s purpose in redeeming his people?