Just about everybody loves the Christmas season. The lights are festive. The holiday traditions that many families have are lasting and fun. We go out and find the right Christmas tree to bring home and decorate while Christmas music plays on the radio. My wife and kids love the Christmas season, and after all Andy Williams reminds us every Christmas season that it is the most wonderful time of the year.
What I find fascinating about the Christmas season is that this is the one time of year that it is ok to sing about baby Jesus. Think of all the Christmas carols you hear playing on the radio and how many of them sing about this savior or king born on this day.
Now for those of you who may be more scholarly, it is not very likely that Jesus was born on December 25; that is just the day we choose to celebrate his birth. By the way if you want to have that discussion, we can, but that is not the point of this article.
Here is what I want you to think about today: Isn’t it amazing how comfortable people are singing about the baby Jesus? We take time to celebrate his birth, just like people celebrate when other babies are born. However, we know that Jesus came to die for our sins and to be the savior of the world. He was not only man, but he was Immanuel which is God with us.
When you begin to step away from the Christmas story and begin to move towards the Easter story, then something happens. The cheers and celebrations seem to wane. There is no month long playing of songs celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus. The atmosphere is completely different. Why does this happen? This is the focus of my writing today, helping you reconcile the Christ at Christmas with the Christ at Easter.
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Why Does the World Love the Jesus of Christmas?
When people think of babies what do they usually think of? Cute, cuddly, innocent little bundles of joy. Many people love to just hold babies, pick them up, squeeze their little cheeks. To be honest I didn’t really like babies. I didn’t feel comfortable holding them and I would shy away from them. The breakthrough moment for me happened when I had my son. My feelings about babies and holding them all changed for me after that; now I love them. However, I have told my wife our quiver is full - we don’t need to add anymore to our quiver.
The truth is, people love babies because of their innocence and because they are non-threatening. No one is really threatened by a baby. However, there were many in the Christmas story who were. Here is how Matthew records it:
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’ When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2:1-3).
I believe this disturbance was because Herod felt threatened. His power and reign were at stake. After all, kings sit on thrones and would this king come after his throne? While there were many in Jerusalem celebrating the birth of Jesus, everyone wasn’t in that festive mood. That’s because they didn’t see baby Jesus, they saw King Jesus.
You see, many in our world don’t want to consider Jesus beyond the manger. As long as they can keep him in the manger, he remains an innocent, non-threatening baby. Nevertheless, this one who was lying in a manger would be the one who would die on the cross. This reality is usually one that people don’t consider at Christmas time because it challenges them and makes them answer questions that many want to avoid.
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Why Do People Struggle with the Jesus of Easter?
The Jesus of Easter is not celebrated as much by the world because he forces us to answer hard questions about who he is and who we are. The Jesus of Easter forces us to consider what he said about himself and decide whether his claims are true or not. It’s one thing when others proclaim you to be savior, that’s the Jesus of Christmas. It’s another thing when you make those claims yourself. That’s the Jesus of Easter.
The Jesus of Easter causes you to confront your sinful condition, to answer the question is this Jesus the one, or should we look for another? Is he really King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Was he really God in flesh or just a man who claimed to be? This Jesus of Easter causes you to answer what I believe is the most important question in life which Jesus asked his disciples.
“’But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’” (Matthew 16:15).
The Jesus of Christmas doesn’t require you to answer that question. But the Jesus of Easter does. Your answer to that question determines everything about how you will live this life and more importantly how you will spend eternity. This reality forces many to not sing so loudly about the Jesus of Easter because you have to come to terms with who he is.
The Jesus of Christmas was cute and cuddly. The Jesus of Easter was bruised and broken.
The Jesus of Christmas was small and innocent. The Jesus of Easter was larger than life challenging what you believe.
The Jesus of Christmas was celebrated by many, hated by few. The Jesus of Easter was hated by many and celebrated by few.
The Jesus of Christmas was born to die. The Jesus of Easter died to live and give life.
The Jesus of Christmas was King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Jesus of Easter is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
In other words, the truth of Christmas is made crystal clear by the reality of Easter.
Let’s Bridge the Gap
Jesus was born to be our savior, but the road to becoming savior would be paved with nails and a cross. The beautiful thing about this is Jesus chose to walk this road. He chose to become this lamb of God and to come and sacrifice his life for our sin.
Revelation 13:8 refers to this Jesus as the lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world. In eternity past, before one star had ever been created, Jesus knew this moment in time would come. He would take on flesh (Christmas) that would be battered and broken (Easter). He would be celebrated and worshipped (Christmas). He would be mocked, whipped, and crucified (Easter). He would be born of a virgin, the first and only one to ever do that (Christmas). He would rise from the dead as a risen savior, the first and only one to ever do that (Easter). This is how you bridge the gap between Christmas and Easter.
As you gather this Christmas season, don’t just celebrate the traditions - as wonderful and exciting as they are. Don’t just cook the food and exchange the gifts and have a good time. Please have fun and enjoy the holiday season, but let’s not forget the true reason we celebrate. We can celebrate Christmas only because of Easter. If Jesus is not a resurrected savior then his birth isn’t much more important than yours or mine. However, it’s because he not only died but he rose that he is our hope of salvation. This Christmas, remember the risen savior because in all honesty the risen Jesus is the true reason for the season.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
This article is part of our larger Christmas and Advent resource library centered around the events leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ. We hope these articles help you understand the meaning and story behind important Christian holidays and dates and encourage you as you take time to reflect on all that God has done for us through his son Jesus Christ!
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