Summary: One way Christians remember Christ during Christmas time is by way of the Christmas tree. But, what does the Christmas tree mean in your house? Do you know? Do your children know? Today, we will discover how we can answer those questions in reference to a simple Christmas tree.
“And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?” (Exodus 12:26).
What mean ye by this service?
There are many opinions about Christmas: whether Christian should celebrate it or not, if so, how Christians should celebrate Christmas. However, we celebrate Christmas because it is another (and a golden) opportunity to share Christ with others. We celebrate the revelation of Isaiah 9:6 two thousand years ago: the Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace came to us born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) lying in a manger.
But, when we celebrate Christmas in our homes, do our children (and visitors) understand what we are celebrating? Do they understand our "services" and our "symbols"? Are our “symbols” just meaningless traditions or do they have point to something or someone?
One way Christians remember Christ during Christmas time is by way of the Christmas tree. But, what does the Christmas tree mean in your house? Do you know? Do your children know? Today, we will discover how we can answer those questions in reference to a simple Christmas tree.
In Exodus 12:26, God was speaking to the Hebrews in reference to what was going to happen: all firstborn children in Egypt were going to die that night and Pharaoh would release them suddenly. Part of the preparation was the observance of the Passover, which is what the Lord was instructing them about here in Exodus 12.
The Hebrews who wanted to live through the night (by faith) had to kill a lamb and put its blood on the doorposts of their houses. And God was instructing them that in the years to come, when the children would ask the parents, "what is this all about" in reference to observing the Passover, the parents would have an answer.
Here we can see that it is God's will that we (a) have a service (an external reminder that points us to God) and (b) parents teach their children. For us here today, Christmas is our "service" that points to God and we have the opportunity to teach our children (and our visitors) what this is all about. One rich resource to do this is the Christmas tree.
So, what is the Christmas tree all about? Is it some obscure pagan reference or is it something that Christians can reclaim, own, and use to proclaim the glory of Christ and the Gospel?
Let's briefly examine the Christmas tree and discover "what this means."
1. The Christmas Tree.
The Christmas tree represents the cross of Christ. We read in 1 Peter 2:24 that Christ “bare our sins in his own body on the tree”. The cross here is called a "tree". Therefore, the Christmas tree can be a reminder to us of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. We read in Isaiah 53:5 that Christ was wounded, bruised, chastised, and received stripes for our sins, not His own. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that Christ was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
The decorations in general reflect the beauty of the cross of Christ. When we see the decorations that adorn the Christmas tree, we can reflect on the beauty of the sacrifice of Christ. And we can look at specific elements.
The tinsel represents the glory of God wrapped around the cross of Christ.
The bulbs represent the fruit of Christ's work. Matthew 7:17 speaks of fruit: good fruit and bad fruit. Here we are two thousand years later, and the cross of Christ still bears good fruit. It is an eternal good fruit.
Bows represent the attributes of God that came together on that tree two thousand years ago. They speak of God’s holiness, His justice, His immutability, and of His mercy, grace, and love that met on the Cross, the wisdom of God that made a way for sinners to be made whole again.
Lights on the tree represent hope. We read in James 1:17 that God is the Father of lights. Romans 15:13 says that God is a God of hope. What is the hope that these lights represent? Hope for a brighter future in Christ, the light that shined in the darkness. Luke 2:30-32 speaks of salvation as a light to lighten the Gentiles. A light to bring hope to the world.
The gifts under the tree represent God's gifts to us: Grace, mercy, truth, love, kindness, and more in the face of our sin and rejection. In fact, what do we have that we have not been given (1 Corinthians 4:7)? Those with children here today, ask yourself, do your children "deserve" the gifts they receive under the tree? Those without children, ask yourself, if the person whose name is on the gift under the tree really “deserves” it? Have not our children behaved badly this year? Have our spouses or others behaved perfectly this year? As sure as there is sin in the world, the answer must be no. No one deserves the gifts we give them. We simply give them for our own reasons. But, God’ reason was love. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).