One of our cherished Christmas traditions is setting out a manger scene that has been in the family for generations.
When my niece, Alexandria, was very young, she was always eager to come and help arrange the figures. She carefully studied the placement of every angel and shepherd, frequently stepping back to evaluate her work.
This ritual always seemed to prompt questions: “Did the Baby Jesus get cold in the manger?” she would ask. “Did Mary and Joseph have a blanket to cover Him, or were those swaddling clothes warm enough?”
One December, as we put out the worn old manger and its well-loved pieces, my niece asked her most profound question yet: “Uncle Alex, why did Jesus come?”
“That’s a great question,” I said. “A really great question!”
When we pause to think about the reasons why Jesus came before us, Christmas becomes all the more meaningful. Christ’s arrival on Earth accomplished many things, including the following:
Displaying the person of God. Jesus once asked an individual, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” The man answered, as millions might today, “Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?” Jesus said to the man, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you” (John 9:35-37). The man then offered Him a gesture reserved for God alone. He worshipped Jesus, and Jesus received that worship. Christ also assured us, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Paying for our sin. Jesus was born to die. He was designated to be the perfect sacrificial Lamb who would go to the altar for all of humanity. In 1 Peter 1:19, we read that Jesus was “a lamb without blemish or defect.” Jesus came to atone and pay for my sin and yours (Isaiah 53:7, John 1:29, and Revelations 5:6).
Giving us victory over death. Way back in the Garden of Eden, God had warned Adam and Eve that their disobedience would yield a bitter outcome: mortality (Genesis 2:16). The fruit of sin — death — is seen in Scripture, throughout history and in each morning’s news headlines. But Jesus came to give life and destroy death (John 10:10, Romans 5:12-21, and 1 Corinthians 15:22, 26). Jesus alone could conquer sin and its results.
Defeating Satan. It’s no wonder Satan worked through human operatives in a futile ploy to destroy the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:16-18). At least to some degree, the fallen angel knew that Jesus’ birth signaled His ultimate destruction. John 3:8 proclaims, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of Satan.” Indeed. And Jesus will finish the job at His second coming.
Scripture teaches us that the manger held not just another baby, but God clothed in human flesh — Immanuel, “God with us.”
Fulfilling prophecy and ushering history along. The Messiah’s coming had been promised by God through the Jewish Scriptures — and was a hope cherished by humanity for centuries. In fact, the first chapter of Matthew includes a lengthy list of Jesus’ ancestors, validating His miraculous and messianic pedigree as “Son of David.”
Jesus taught that His life was the theme and fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures (Luke 24:27; John 5:39) — while I Corinthians 10:11 calls the life, death and resurrection of Christ “the fulfillment of the ages.”
Christmas is about an individual and an event: Jesus Christ and His entrance into history. Scripture teaches us that the manger held not just another baby, but God clothed in human flesh — Immanuel, “God with us.” The Messiah entered actual time and space to resolve a real condition. The condition is sin. And the remedy is found in the One Whom Scripture calls “Savior.”
Quite a few years have gone by since my little niece asked, “Why did Jesus come?” Jesus was born for many reasons, not the least of which was to show God’s love to all of us. The Lord Jesus humbly entered this world one night in a Bethlehem stable.
In stepping from eternity into time, God personally identified with humanity and would thoroughly pay the guilt of our sins. Jesus enabled us to be reunited with God!
Do you have a personal relationship with the Christ of Christmas? Jesus is as close as a simple, heartfelt prayer. As a minister and speaker, I encourage people to trust in Christ, just as I did at age 21. He has promised to embrace and receive all who call out to Him. “Everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).
Much of the world now opts to celebrate an undefined observance called “the holidays.” But Christians celebrate Christ — a divine Person born for a holy purpose. And a special part of the purpose for which He came involves you, whom He loves very, very much!
Dr. Alex McFarland is a religion and culture expert, the director for Christian Worldview and Apologetics at North Greenville University in Greenville, South Carolina, a national talk-show host, the author of 18 books, and the host of the Truth for a New Generation conference. His website is www.alexmcfarland.com.