Christmas is a very special time. I may be very different, but I probably view the “special-ness” (is that even a word?) differently from other Christians. To some degree, I enjoy seeing all the Christmas decorations that my neighbors put up; they do seem to make one ‘merrier’ for some reason. Some of my neighbors really do it up with magnificence, their yards partially covered with artificial Christmas trees, reindeer, snowmen, sparkly angels and giant Santas, all covered with dazzling lights and sparkles. At night, when they are all lit up, it is truly a remarkable display of ‘Christmas-ness.’
However, there is one house on our street that has only one ‘decoration,’ as does ours. It is a very simple sign that says, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” Several days ago, as I was walking the dog, I stopped and just read that sign over and over. That one sign meant more to me than all the sparkles and glitter of the other houses. It demonstrated that some people actually ‘get it;’ – a true indication that they understand why there is even such a thing as a Christmas, or a Christmas celebration.
I remember years ago when I was teaching a Sunday School class at our church; it was near Christmas and the entire congregation was excited about the season. However, when I asked them what Christmas truly means to them, most said it’s all about time with family. Some mentioned the birth of Jesus, but none provided me with what the word Christmas really means.
It’s a composite of the words ‘Christ’ and ‘mass.’ And since the English word Christ is a transliteration of the Greek word Christos, which means ‘The Anointed One,’ and the word ‘Mass’ means “a death sacrifice,” then it should be understood that the celebration we recognize, and for the most part partake of on December 25th as ‘Christmas,’ is a “Celebration of the death sacrifice of The Anointed One.” Also, without the anointing of The Holy Spirit, Jesus of Nazareth would have been only a good speaker. So, for Jesus to be the miracle worker that He truly was – the healer of all sickness, the One who raised the dead – that anointing cannot be separated from the One Anointed.
So, the real meaning of Christmas is “A Celebration of the death sacrifice of the Anointed One, and (a celebration of) His Anointing.”
I have heard so many people through the years say that Christmas is “all about the kids,” but nothing could be further from the truth. It should be a special time to celebrate the arrival of the One sent by the Father to make everything right with the world again, as it was in the Garden of Eden, but only in the sense that His miraculous birth meant that the One to be sent by God to be the eternal sacrifice had finally arrived.
People love to give gifts at Christmas but fail to celebrate the greatest gift of all time—a Saviour Who is Christ the Lord. People love to show the Baby Jesus in a manger, and He truly was; but we all often forget that, a few short years after that manger setting, He was to walk the Via Dolorosa – all alone, carrying on His tortured back His own wooden cross to the final place for His body to hang until He was dead. The fact that He could even walk, let alone carry a heavy cross, gives some idea of what a perfect human specimen Jesus was.
Many victims who were scourged by soldiers wielding the hideous instrument known as the Roman flagrum, or cat of nine tails, did not survive the whipping. The flagrum consisted of a whip that branched off into nine leather straps, each of which ended in an attached lead ball embedded with pieces of glass, nails or bone. It was an instrument designed to inflict maximum pain and damage to anyone on the receiving end. Its main purpose was to extract information or a confession to a charge leveled against the victim.
According to Matthew 26:3-5, the Jewish chief priests, the elders of the people, the scribes, and the high priest, Caiaphas, conspired to have Jesus killed by claiming that Jesus wanted to overthrow the Roman emperor, claiming His own kingship. After arresting Jesus, the Roman government decided it was in their best interest to question Him and try to extract a confession to decide His fate. The result of the scourging left Jesus, that adorable baby in the manger some 33 years in the past, more scarred than any other man who had been scourged. The 53rd chapter of Isaiah describes His condition after his whipping, just before His crucifixion.
Most people have been programmed to “see” in their heads a picture of Jesus hanging on the cross with a few drops of blood dripping from the nails in His hands and feet and the crown of thorns on His head. However, as a result of His scourging at the hands of His Roman soldier torturers, he would have been so scarred, His flesh so torn and His entire body so covered with His own blood, that He would have been unrecognizable. Quite a different picture from the small helpless baby in the manger.
The world, along with most Christians, sees and uses Christmas as a time to get together with friends and family, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. But, unfortunately, for the most part there is very little celebrating of the One Anointed Who was sent to save the world from their sins. The act of ultimate sacrifice is what made eternal life possible for anyone willing to believe God’s Word and accept Jesus’ sacrifice on a personal level. If only the world could grasp the Truth and the Reality of what Christmas means, those ‘family and friend gatherings’ could actually start great revivals.
Have a blessed Christmas and try to remember, at least for a little while during this season, what Christmas truly means. Once you grasp that truth, your Christmas celebration will never be the same.