As we all know Jesus wasn’t born on Christmas Day, and we also know that Christmas was a pagan holiday that we Christians decided to jump on board with.
So the question is how do we keep Christ at the centre of Christmas?
For me growing up as with all kids Christmas was about the toys, nothing else. But now it’s about the people and showing them how we as Christians live, or at least try to.
Something myself and Amanda have done over the past few years is invite people who are alone at Christmas over for Christmas lunch, these people have often been people with no where to go, or no family. we haven’t done anything different for them other than treat them as part of the family and include them in what we do.
This for me has been a great way to keep Christ at the centre of Christmas by trying our best to be selfless and give to others.
But what does Jesus want this Christmas? I think we can see the answer in his prayers. What does he ask God for? His longest prayer is John 17. Here is the climax of his desire:
Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am
Among all the undeserving sinners in the world, there are those who God has “given to Jesus.” These are those who God has drawn to the Son (John 6:44, 65). These are Christians – people who have “received” Jesus as the crucified and risen Saviour and Lord and Treasure of their lives. Jesus says he wants them to be with Him.
Sometimes we hear people say that God created man because he was lonely. They say, “God created us so that we would be with him.” Do you think Jesus agrees with this? Well, He does say that He really wants us to be with Him! Yes, but why? Consider the rest of the verse. Why does Jesus want us to be with Him?
. . . to see my glory that you [Father] have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
That would be a strange way of expressing His loneliness. “I want them with me so they can see my glory.” In fact it doesn’t express His loneliness. It expresses His concern for the satisfaction of our longing, not His loneliness. Jesus is not lonely. He and the Father and the Spirit are profoundly satisfied in the fellowship of the Trinity. We, not He, are starving for something. And what Jesus wants for Christmas is for us to experience what we were really made for – seeing and savouring His glory.
Imagine, that God would make this sink in to our souls! Jesus made us (John 1:3) to see His glory. Just before He goes to the cross Jesus pleads His deepest desires with the Father: “Father, I desire – I desire! – that they . . . may be with me where I am, to see my glory.”
But that is only half of what Jesus wants in these final, climactic verses of his prayer. I just said we were really made for seeing and savouring his glory. Is that what he wants – that we not only see his glory but savour it, relish it, delight in it, treasure it, love it? Consider verse 26, the very last verse:
I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
That is the end of the prayer. What is Jesus’ final goal for us? Not that we simply see his glory, but that we love him with the same love that the Father has for him: “that the love with which you [Father] have loved me may be in them.” Jesus’ longing and goal is that we see his glory and then that we be able to love what we see with the same love that the Father has for the Son. And he doesn’t mean that we merely imitate the love of the Father for the Son. He means the Father’s very love becomes our love for the Son – that we love the Son with the love of the Father for the Son. This is what the Spirit becomes and bestows in our lives: Love for the Son by the Father through the Spirit.
What Jesus wants most for Christmas is that his followers be gathered in and then get what they want most – to see His glory and then savour it with the very heart of the Father for the Son.
What I want most for Christmas this year is to join you, in fact all Christians in seeing Christ in all his fullness and that we together be able to love what we see with a love far beyond our own selfish human capacities.
This is what Jesus prays for us this Christmas: “Father, show them my glory and give them the very delight in me that you have in me.” Oh, may we see Christ with the eyes of God and savour Christ with the heart of God. That is the essence of heaven. That is the gift Christ came to purchase for sinners at the cost of his death in our place.
So this year lets keep Christ at the centre of Christmas