Come December, and a festive ambience is in the air. Star decked pine trees, plum cakes, cards, gifts, carols reverberating from tall spired cathedral, end of season discounts, brightly and cheerfully decorated shops: all these echo with colourful resonance “IT’S CHRISTMAS”!! But how many know what the real Christmas story is?? It is the story that changed the world. It divided time into AD and BC. It gave man hope, joy and greater gifts that one could never have dreamt of. It’s the story of God becoming man.
The first ever Christmas was not one of pomp and show. It was a tough time for the young couple Joseph and Mary. Mary had become pregnant before marriage and Joseph was not the father. Joseph, being a good man, didn’t want to disgrace her publicly but decided to divorce her secretly. But an angel named Gabriel told Joseph in his dream that the Child is holy, Mary is pregnant with the overpowering of the Holy Spirit, Mary is not an adulterer, but the Child is of God. He is God incarnate. The angel asked Joseph to marry Mary honourably and that she will bear a son, and they must name Him Jesus (God saves), for He would save His people from their sins.
An edict by the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, demanded that every citizen of the Roman Empire be registered. For the census, Joseph was forced to travel from Nazareth, where he worked as a carpenter, to Bethlehem, his native town; and with him, his very pregnant wife, Mary. While there, the time came for her to give birth. The Child was about to be born. Census time, it was night and time for people to rest: given the situation, Joseph was not able to find a room for her to deliver the Child. He took her to a manger. She gave birth to a baby boy, wrapped Him up in the pieces of cloth she had and laid Him in a feeding trough of the sheep and mules.
All this while, some shepherds were staying out in the fields, keeping a watch over their flock by night. Suddenly an angel appeared to them and said, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger”. They were curious and decided to see what was happening. After seeing the parents and the Child, they told others what the angel had told them and all what they saw. Those who heard them were amazed, some praising and glorifying God, some skeptical. And amidst such confusion and hardships, God was born as a man, as a fragile baby upon the straw, clinging to the swaddling clothes for warmth. The Creator of the universe had taken the form of the creation.
This story sounds like a fairy tale from a distant land right? But the Bible is not the only book which tells about this. Many historians have recorded the miracles of the life of Jesus Christ. God knew that man can never be righteous enough and good enough to receive His commendation. God saw man helplessly suffering in this evil world. He knew that man, due to his sinful nature, could never come to Heaven to be with Him. And so, He decided to become man. Just so that, He could save man from the prison of sin and set him free!! THAT IS THE REAL CHRISTMAS STORY!! God became man to save man.
And not just that, He was tortured, beaten, slapped, spit upon and finally crucified on the Roman cross, the worst form of death sentence, for no fault of His. He did not complain, He did not cry out saying, He had not done anything wrong. He being God had the power to punish all His torturers, to kill them who harassed Him, show them His real majesty and declare Himself as the King of the Universe. But He didn’t do that. He remained quiet and died a painful death. WHY?! The Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” He took the punishment for the sins of the entire mankind on Himself, all sins that had been committed in the past, those of the present and those which will be committed in the future, so that we men and women will not have to be punished for them. He purchased our pardon. He redeemed us from the clutches of hell. He made us His children, so that we can be His own and live with Him forever. He has given us the most precious gift of Eternal Life.
You might ask how a dead God can give us eternal and everlasting life. Well, your question is valid and justified. But He is not dead and gone. He rose again on the third day from the dead- alive, bright and powerful. More than five hundred people saw Him, including His disciples. He did not look like a half dead man walking out of the grave; He looked like the same Jesus of Nazareth they knew while He was alive, only with radiance around Him. But He still bore the marks of the gory crucifixion to prove that He is still the same Jesus who was once dead and now is alive.
That same Jesus is beckoning you today to Him: to believe in Him, to accept the fact that you are a sinner and are need help, to accept His forgiveness and His grace and His love, to be His child. Will you heed to His voice? He is waiting.