If all we knew about Jesus was that He was born in a stable in Bethlehem; if all we knew was that His mother was Mary, a virgin; if all we knew was that angels sang to shepherds the night He was born; if all we knew about Jesus was Christmas, we really wouldn’t have a clue about who He really is.
The question of where Jesus came from is very significant when we want to understand who He came to be. He grew up, had an itinerant ministry, and was eventually crucified. His followers claimed that He came back to life. Now if all we knew was where He was born and the events surrounding His birth, that probably would be too much for us to handle.
The apostle John tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). He is telling us that the Word was already in existence when time began. When “God created the heavens and the earth,” the Word already was. He is telling us that the Word not only existed in the beginning of time but that He existed in close relationship with God. He was alongside; He was in company with God. He is telling us that the Word Himself existed as God. He existed in the beginning; He existed in company with God; He existed as God.
“He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:2). Not only was He in existence with God in the beginning, but He was active as God. “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). Everything that exists was made by His agency. In other words, He was the active force that brought all things into existence. When “God said, ‘Let there be light,'” it was the Word that brought that light into existence. There is nothing that exists that came into being apart from Him.
John says that He came into the world, the very world that He brought into being, and that same world didn’t recognize Him. “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him” (John 1:10). John says that He came into His place, the very world that He made for Himself, and the people that He had created didn’t receive Him. They didn’t welcome Him. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11).
John tells us that the Word that existed in the beginning with God and was, in fact God, became human. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). John identifies this Word in the flesh as Jesus Christ in verse 17 of chapter one of his Gospel. He then introduces us to John the Baptizer who, seeing Jesus coming toward Him, proclaims Him to be the Lamb of God, the sacrifice that God had provided to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). John proclaims Him to be “preferred before me,” or of higher rank than I. He tells his followers that this One “was before me.” He tells the crowd that he saw the Holy Spirit come down from heaven and rest on Him, and then testified that “this is the Son of God.”
This is in agreement with what the angel Gabriel told Mary when he told her that she would give birth to One who “will be called the Son of the Highest;” and that “the power of the Highest will overshadow you,” and “that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
The apostle Paul says in Philippians 2 that Christ Jesus, “being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,” but willingly gave up His divine prerogatives and humbled Himself as a human being and eventually submitted Himself to the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8).
Hebrews 1 tells us that God has spoken to us by His Son, through whom He made the worlds. He describes Him as “the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:2-3).
Christmas has very little meaning, if any, if I do not see past the Baby in the manger and see the Son of God, the Creator God, who existed from before the beginning of time, and who submitted Himself to human weakness in order to take away the sins of those whom He had created. Without the Word who became flesh, Christmas is just another winter holiday, which is what our society has decreed it to be. When I take God and eternity out of it, I’m not left with very much; which explains pepper spray at WalMart and camping out at Best Buy to be the first to get the latest gadget that will be obsolete before the year is out.
When Christians talk about Christ being taken out of Christmas, we’re not so concerned with the Baby in the manger as we are about the Savior on the Cross. Of course, you can’t have One without the Other.