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Connecting Christmas to the Cross

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Few would argue that Christmas is the most universally celebrated holiday in America. Christmas is now a cultural norm for secular people as well as Christians. Some might not celebrate using cliche symbols such as Christmas lights pointing to the light of the world, gifts pointing to the greatest gift to the world, or my favorite, “you can’t spell Christmas without ‘Christ,’” but they celebrate the holiday.

Most of us get a day or two off work, buy presents for loved ones, and may even put lights on our houses. With all the excitement, it can be easy to miss the big picture. For our Bulldog football fans around Athens, it would be like getting so lost in complaining about our offense that we forget to celebrate a win- even if it does look more like a baseball score.

So where did all these activities surrounding Christmas come from? How did our culture even get to this point? Let’s go all the way back to the beginning and look at the origins.

You might find it interesting that most scholars believe Jesus wasn’t actually born on December 25, or even in winter! Most believe Christmas can be traced back to the Roman Empire, and the birth of the Son was synchronized with the birth of the “sun”. This is a theme that the Romans celebrated around the end of December because it signified the rebirth of the seasons as spring and summer approached.

From there, we have picked up traditions from other times and cultures such as Christmas cards coming from 19th century Germany, Santa Claus being related to Saint Nicholas for his kindness in the 3rd century, and decorating Christmas trees from Germany in the 16th century. These elements of the holiday make the Christmas season special but are also the backdrop that could become more attractive to us in this season than who the holiday is truly about, Jesus. So from the perspective of a person wanting to connect Christmas to the cross what does this season teach us? Glad you asked!

Connecting Christmas to the Cross

The ultimate story of redemption. One of the greatest ironies of Christmas and the Gospel is that our celebration recognizes our shortcomings. Yes, that can sound funny when you first hear it. But here’s how that beautiful story goes:

In the beginning, God created man. However, not even 3 chapters in, man sinned and turned against God. This created a dilemma that only God could solve. Yes, humanity sinned, but sin against a holy God is too costly for a regular person to pay. The only way our sin could be paid in full and satisfy the judgment of a holy and perfect God would be for something equally as perfect to serve as the sacrifice.

And you guessed it- that’s why Jesus had to be born. Here comes one of the most beautiful doctrines Christians have held to for hundreds of years: Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, humbled himself to become like us, to satisfy the penalty for sin that we could not pay. Jesus was born as a man but was perfect, without sin or blemish. His birth, and ultimately His sacrifice on our behalf, satisfied God’s judgment and bridged our separation from the God we were created to enjoy.

Because the gospel is the ultimate story of redemption, Jesus is the ultimate gift. Through Him, we have no guilt, no shame, and no burdens. Therefore, when we see Christmas and think of baby Jesus- we should connect it to the Cross.

While we can all enjoy the season of Christmas, focus on Jesus and connect Christmas to the cross. Give Jesus the glory He is due and enjoy the ultimate cause of celebration.

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