This time of year makes me feel somewhat different than most other times of the year. There is something about the spirit of this season that produces a different attitude in the demeanor of many.
It is… festive. Lights are strung up. Decorations are lavishly placed all around. Jolly Christmas music is played in homes and in shopping malls. And last but not least, one staple of the Christmas season is put on display – the Christmas tree. These trees come in many sizes. They are decorated in a variety of ways and colors. The Christmas tree is important to this season. In fact, there are many songs about Christmas trees that show its importance for this season. One of which has the line, “O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches…” Typically, we associate this song (and others) with the trees we put up in our living rooms. However, those trees are not the tree of Christmas.
As believers in Jesus, this seasons bears more significance than just the exchanging of presents and decoration of homes. This season shows God’s faithfulness to his promises, the first of which is seen in Genesis 3:15. God promised a Redeemer, and in a little town called Bethlehem God made good on his promise.
This season is to signify and celebrate the birth of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. However, the reason we celebrate the birth of Christ is not merely because a baby was born, but because that baby was born to die so you and I could be born again.
We celebrate the birth of Jesus because that baby would grow up to be the only Savior, the only Hope this world will ever know. Just as the wooden manger held the infant Jesus, the wooden cross held our Savior, Jesus.
You see, Christmas points forward to the reason Christ came. Easter, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus for the redemption of sinners, is the purpose for Christmas.
This Christmas and every Christmas we should think about the Christmas tree, but its not the one under which you put presents, or on which you put ornaments and lights. No. It’s the tree that was fashioned into the shape of the Roman cross, the cross upon which Jesus Christ died for us.
“O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches?”
It is upon that tree and those lovely branches that our Savior was crucified for you and me. It is the tree whose branches are stained with the blood of the Son of God. He came to shed his blood for us so we can have life everlasting.
When I think of this season and all of what Christ came to do, I think of the song, “What Child Is This.” Part of one stanza reads,
Nails, spears shall pierce him through
The cross he bore for me, for you
Hail, hail, the Word made flesh
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
The grace of God in sending his Son, wrapped in human flesh, to be born in a lowly stable, to rescue sinners is the miracle of Christmas. The giving of His Son is the greatest gift our heavenly Father could’ve given us. In Jesus, we find grace upon grace (Jn. 1:16). Such grace is God’s present to the world – a grace that pursues us, literally, when we wander astray; a grace that gives everything and seeks nothing in return; a grace that shines the Light of the hope of God’s salvation into a world that only knew the darkness of sin (Is. 9:2).
Christmas is about a tree. It is about God’s grace. It is about the arrival of our Savior, who is now King, and who is coming again.
So, let us celebrate Jesus this Christmas, and enjoy this special time of the year.
For to us a child is born, a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called: ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness for this time forth and forevermore. (Is. 9:6-7)