Summary: Like in Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, to truly understand Christmas we need to see it from the past, present and future.
CHRISTMAS PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE
Christmas is finally here! One of my favorite movies to watch at Christmas time is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens in 1843. In the story, Mr. Scrooge is visited by 3 spirits – Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. I think that Dickens was on to something. To truly understand Christmas you must see it through these 3 perspectives as well.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
1. Christmas Past – vs. 1-4
To understand Christmas you have to start at the very beginning. The book of John starts with a declaration that is a little hard to fully understand. It says that the Word (Jesus) was not only WITH God in the beginning but WAS God. What does this mean?
a. Jesus is eternally God – in the beginning was the Word
Jesus was not a created thing like the earth or angels or you and me. His existence is not finite but infinite. He has always existed and will always exist. Jesus is eternally God. There has never been a time when Jesus was not.
John 8:57 "You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham !" 58 "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
b. Jesus is equally God – the Word was God
Not only did Jesus always exist but He is also equally God. That means that Jesus and the Father are both equally omnipotent in terms of their authority and power. They stand as equals in terms of their substance and nature.
John 10: 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one." 31 Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him,
c. Jesus is essentially God – through Him all things were made
Not only this, but Jesus is also attributed with all the work and character of the Father. He was involved in creation and together with the Father rules over creation. They are equals in terms of their character and divine attributes.
Col 1:15 He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together .
Though separate from the Father in his personhood, Jesus was one with the Father in His existence and essence. The same above can also be said of the Holy Spirit, the third member of the trinity. There is no way to adequately explain this in human terms. As finite beings our minds are unable to comprehend the infinite. Have you ever thought “what lies beyond the universe?” The idea that you can go as fast as you want in any direction and never ever reach the end cannot fully be understood by the human mind. The trinity is not the joining together of 3 distinct entities. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinguishable as persons but one and inseparable in nature.
"Deny the doctrine of the Trinity and you'll lose your salvation; try to comprehend it and you'll lose your mind." -- Anonymous
What I am trying to say is that the wonder of Christmas is that more than 2000 years ago the almighty God of creation came to earth and became one of us. The majestic eternal God was born a helpless baby in a stable.
Is 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
But why did he do that? Why did God have to become a baby born in a manger? He did it so that we could know God and so that we could be set free.
Soren Kierkegaard, the great Danish theologian of another century, tells the story of a prince who was running an errand for his father one day in the local village. As he did so, he passed through a very poor section of the town. Looking through the window of his carriage, he saw a beautiful young peasant girl walking along the street. He could not get her off his heart. He continued to come to the town, day after day, just to see her and to feel as though he was near her. His heart yearned for her, but there was a problem. How could he develop a relationship with her? He could order her to marry him. It was in his power to do so. But he wanted this girl to love him from the heart, willingly. He could put on his royal garments and impress her with his regal entourage, and drive up to her front door with soldiers and a carriage drawn by six horses. But if he did this he would never be certain that the girl loved him or was simply overwhelmed with his power, position and wealth. The prince came up with another solution. As you may have guessed, he gave up his kingly robe and symbols of power and privilege. He moved into the village dressed only as a peasant. He lived among the people, shared their interests and concerns, and talked their language. In time, the young peasant girl grew to know him, and then to love him.