What our present society is sorely missing today is the purity of its celebration of Christ’s birth. Christmas today is no longer what is used to be more than 2000 years ago in the land of Bethlehem. Santa Claus and a reindeer named Rudolph are better known to be ones that make people happy than Christ. Bright twinkling light bulbs have altogether eclipsed that beauty of the Eastern star that has guided the wise men towards the manger. Crass commercialism and profit-making have totally erased out selflessness and thanksgiving from the hearts of people. The manger scene is probably the closest people can get in providing themselves with a picture of what it was like then (except for a few incorrect misrepresentations). And worst, religious skepticism and fanaticism have become more acceptable than correct biblical discourse on the significance of Christ’s birth. On the other hand, if ever the world tries to celebrate it, it celebrates the wrong thing.
But to those who first witnessed the coming of Jesus Christ on earth as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in the manger, they had the unequaled opportunity to celebrate in purity the birth of the Savior. And these humble people like the shepherds accomplished this remarkably glorious deed of worshipping the Messiah, not without the tempting seduction of an equally materialistic and vain Roman world. The huge influx of people to towns and villages like Bethlehem had sent everyone to a business frenzy; merchants and ordinary people alike, cashing in on just about everything they could lay their hands on. However, the shepherds refused to be caught up in this sickening whirl of self-indulgence and carousing. When told of the news of the birth of the Christ, the Messiah, these lowly shepherds went around the town proclaiming the Good News. Simon, described as a righteous and devout man, offered praises to God. And so was Anna, the prophetess. She too gave thanks. The wise men even traveled from the east just to worship Jesus with precious gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense. These people could have also been distracted by their personal worldly concerns. Yet, they remained constantly focused on the true reason why men must celebrate the birth of Christ.
But then again, if ever the world then and today does not celebrate the true spirit of this event, it is because they really have not understood the essence of it all. Today most people think that Christ’s birth is but plain religious fiesta to busy themselves with. Others consider it as an occasion for unbridled merry-making and drunkenness. Still, others use this day as platform to flaunt their religiosity before the eyes of many. Thus it was needful for the angels to herald the coming of the Messiah and for the shepherds, in turn, to proclaim this message of salvation to the people. Without these angels and people telling others of the real essence of this Messianic birth, people would never understand the meaning of it. Thus, it is written in the Bible that Jesus Christ came to be a ransom for all. Ransom is something which you pay to captors to facilitate the release of the hostage or prisoner. Christ did not pay the ransom; “just as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Hence, Prophet Isaiah said that the Lord caused the iniquities of us to fall on Him; “we all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). This is what we must celebrate about. We who were supposed to be placed under God’s mighty anger and condemnation have been set free because the Son of God offered Himself to be a ransom.
“They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (Luke 19:44). The failure of man to recognize the coming of Jesus Christ is not without dire consequences. It results in man’s continuous bondage to sin. But the recognition of God’s love and forgiveness by man can bring unparalleled hope and salvation to him. This Christmas, we once again saw the world around us going berserk in its buying and selling spree; forgetting all about the true source of eternal blessings and hope in this world. But man can make an exceptional difference in his celebration of Christmas this year if he would only open his heart to the truth of the greatest story ever told.
Our generation today has done much to dilute the true essence of Christ’s birth and confine itself with traditions that are done allegedly in the “spirit of the season.” Unfortunately, in doing these things we are just, in effect, robbing Christ of His worthy place in our hearts this season.
The true and only reason to celebrate is His promise of salvation to us who are in “sin and error pining.” Let us keep it that way.