I love watching Christmas movies during the month of December. I watch a few new ones, but I prefer the oldies but goodies. I even like to watch animated Christmas movies; I'm just a big kid at heart. One of my favorites is the Charlie Brown Christmas special, created by Charles Schultz and first aired in 1965. In spite of the holiday cheer going on around him, Charlie Brown is depressed. He finally pleads, "Isn't there anyone who understands what Christmas is all about?" Linus responds by telling him the story of the birth of Jesus from Luke 2. (In spite of objections, Schultz insisted the Biblical story be included.) It is interesting to note that, while quoting the Scripture, Linus drops the security blanket that he always carries. He doesn't need it then.
What is the real reason for Christmas? Is it about gifts, decorations, shopping, wonderful food and all the other things that are associated with the season? For many people, it has to do with the weather, of all things. They are "dreaming of a white Christmas"! (Interesting trivia: According to Wikipedia, "The version sung by Bing Crosby is the world's best-selling single with estimated sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide.") Here in Hawaii, we know that Christmas will be "green and bright", as Bing sings in another song.
The Apostle Paul tells us the real reason for Christmas in 2 Corinthians chapter 5. His version has nothing to do with Christmas trees, food or the weather. He doesn't even talk about angel choirs, wise men or mangers. He doesn't include anything we usually associate with the holiday. But he does give us the real reason Christ came to this earth and it can be summed up in one word: Reconciliation!
What does Reconciliation have to do with Christ and Christmas?
1. Jesus brings us Reconciliation with God (2 Corinthians 5:14-17)
When we go back to the beginning (Genesis 1), we find that God created man in perfection. Sadly, sin came along (Genesis 3) and ruined everything. Because of disobedience, Adam and Eve lost their relationship with God. They hid from Him and, when confronted by their actions, tried to cover themselves and began to blame one another.
Sin has ruined every human being who has ever lived, except Jesus. We are no longer God's children; we are His enemy.
Thankfully, God was not content to let us stay in that rebellious and estranged condition. He prepared a solution from the beginning. Genesis 3:15 is the first promise of a deliverer. When the time was right, Paul tells us in Galatians 4:4-5, "God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons" (and daughters).
When He died on the Cross, Jesus purchased our Reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:21). We were not just ruined by a load of sin and burdened by guilt, we were also separated from the Father. Every attempt to try to cover our sin and reach Him in our own effort is about as effective as Adam and Eve trying to cover their nakedness with fig leaves! Have you ever thought about how foolish that was? Can you imagine God saying, "Adam and Eve are covered by fig leaves. Everything must be OK!"
Though countless centuries have passed, man's efforts haven't changed. He is still trying to get to God by his own ability. Religion is man's efforts to reach God, to try to establish a relationship with Him. All religions in the world require great effort and performance. Some practitioners are pretty impressive. But it is still all about Do. But Christianity is all about Done! Jesus declared on the cross, "It is finished!" The price for the penalty of sin had been paid by Christ's sacrifice and we can now be reconciled to the Father because of Jesus. We can be forgiven, pardoned, cleansed, restored, adopted, and so much more. If you are in Christ, you are a new creation. A miracle has happened in your life. The old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Wow!
2. Jesus also brings us Reconciliation with Man (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
Sin brought separation, not just between Adam and God but also between Adam and Eve. When you accept Christ's gift of reconciliation with the Father, He also gives you a work to do: Bring reconciliation to our fellow man. You have been chosen by God to be His Agent of Reconciliation!
You are Christ’s Ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are not on our own but we represent Christ everywhere we go, whether school, the job, a store, etc.
You are also Christ’s Spokesperson (2 Corinthians 5:20), "as though God were making His appeal through us," as though He were speaking right through us. We are His mouthpiece. Paul goes on to say, "We implore you on Christ’s behalf...." We beg you; we plead with you on God's behalf.
And what is our message? Be Reconciled to God! God wants you to be Reconciled to Him! God is not mad at you! His wrath is against sin but He loves you and wants you reconciled to Himself.
Are we all sinners apart from Christ? Yes! Can God accept sin? No! Do we deserve punishment in hell for all eternity? Yes! But that is only half the story. The Good News, the absolutely fantastic news, is that God wants you to be reconciled to Himself and He sent His only Son to take your place.
Sin separated you from God but He wants you back! His Son died an agonizing death on the Cross to pay the penalty for sin you owed but you could never pay (2 Corinthians 5:21). We were held captive to sin by Satan but Jesus paid the ransom for our freedom.
Bible scholars call it the Great Exchange. Jesus died so that we might have life. He became poor that we might become rich. He was crucified naked so that we might wear robes of righteousness. He was abandoned that we might be adopted into the family of God. He was forsaken that we might have divine purpose and identity.
The miracle of Christmas is the miracle of Reconciliation! Can we comprehend what God was willing to do? Can we begin to grasp what Jesus did? We were enemies, separated from the Father. We were as far away from God as you could get. But Jesus entered our existence. He was born a baby and became a man. He lived and died to lead us back into relationship with God, to be adopted into His family.
Don't ever forget: God wants you back! He has done everything that is needed to make that possible. All you have to do is say Yes to Him.
Peter Larson tells us about what Jesus was willing to go to reconcile us to the Father in this amazing statement. "Despite our efforts to keep Him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered our world through a door marked, "No Entrance" and left through a door marked "No Exit".
Wow! That is profound.