The reason for the season
What is Christmas all about? A statement by the apostle Paul offers us the answer: ‘This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief’ (1 Timothy 1:15). So then, Christmas is about …
Paul says, ‘this is a faithful [or reliable] saying’. Something that epitomises reliability is the world famous clock Big Ben (the name really belongs to the main bell). The clock was designed by Edmund Denison who made great efforts to guarantee its accuracy. For example, he enclosed the huge pendulum in a wind-proof box to protect it from the elements. It has kept remarkably good time since 1859.
So are Paul’s words as reliable as Big Ben? No, they are far more reliable – as is the whole of the Bible. Big Ben fails from time to time. For example, in 1962 heavy snow slowed it down on New Year’s Eve and it chimed in the New Year ten minutes late! The Bible has never let anyone down. It tells us how to get right, live right, stay right and die right. Right, that is, with God.
‘Christ Jesus came into the world’. This was history not fantasy. There were eyewitnesses who wrote down what they saw!
The apostle Peter said of the life of Christ, ‘We did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty’ (2 Peter 1:16).
You may brush history aside and claim that Jesus never existed. Well, did you know that there are around 30 billion coins in circulation in Britain, every single one of them bearing a date? That date indicates the universally attested fact that history can be divided into two eras – ‘Before Christ’ (BC) and Anno Domini (AD). The break point is, of course, the coming of Christ.
God’s Son entered our world with a clear aim in view – ‘to save sinners’.
A lady once stopped to listen to a preacher in the centre of Lincoln. When asked if she was interested, she responded, ‘Oh no, it isn’t for me!’ When asked why not, she replied, ‘Because I’m a sinner, so it couldn’t be for me’.
After being shown the words of 1 Timothy 1:15 she was amazed to realise that God was, in fact, interested in people just like her. Jesus came on a rescue mission to pay for the sins of people just like us.
When he hung upon the cross he was taking the place of sinners and suffering their punishment – so that they might go free.
Paul called himself the ‘chief’ of sinners. He had done some terrible things before he experienced Jesus’ mercy and forgiveness. Yet you might be saying, ‘You weren’t the chief of sinners, Paul, because I am!’
Most people don’t feel the seriousness of their sin against God, but perhaps you are one who does. If so, the great news is that you can be saved! No one is beyond redemption. God can reach down and lift you up, however low you may have sunk.
But, you must personally believe that and turn to Jesus to save you. No one else can do that for you. People often say, ‘My religion is personal!’ They are exactly right; it is between you and God.
Here’s the big question then – is all this acceptable to you? Paul says that the message of Christmas is ‘worthy of all acceptance’. If something is worth accepting it is welcome or pleasing – an appreciated gift.
Yes, Christmas is about gifts. But the greatest gift of all is God’s Son, the Lord Jesus. Even today he offers the gift of eternal life to all who turn to him in faith. Will you welcome this gift? Will you receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord?