Christmas. For most of us the Christmas season makes us think of fighting crowds amid the shopping rush, receiving gifts of all sorts, joining together for family gatherings, singing cheerful carols, and maybe even enjoying freshly fallen snow – especially if you’re from Michigan like me. All of us from Michigan know it is just not quite Christmas if there isn’t snow on the ground. We want snow, great parties, awesome food, cool presents; and on the list goes.
But now that twenty-four hours have passed since the sugarplum dreams danced in our heads, let’s be honest. Jesus isn’t the reason for the season. Jesus isn’t the reason why we storm shopping malls, plazas, and outlets centers on Black Friday (and all throughout the month of December) in order to spend hundreds of thousands – even millions – of dollars on stuff, “stuff” so that we can “get ready for Christmas.”
Let’s be honest. Jesus isn’t the reason why we sing, “Grandma got run over by a Reindeer” or “I’ll have a Blue Christmas without you.” Jesus isn’t usually the reason why we spend hours thinking, planning, and organizing our Christmas events, parties, super-saver sales, and “get-to-togethers.”
Most of the time, Jesus isn’t really the reason for the season at all. It’s as if we get so distracted by everything around this season called Christ-mas, all of the lights, presents, parties, songs, sales, and hype, that we totally lose sight of the One who is more than the reason for the season, He is the centerpiece – the orchestrator of our salvation.
It is as if everything around us is attempting to pull our eyes toward the surroundings of the Christmas event and away from Christ. It’s almost like you and I walking into the ancient manger, a smelly, dusty cave on the outskirts of Bethlehem. And we see Jesus, the very Son of God, cuddled up in a rough sawn trough, and yet we are more preoccupied with the event than with Him. We get caught up talking about how we should clean up the cave, dust off the beams, clean the animal refuse, and decorate the door… and we ignore Jesus.
Yet what God simply desires for you and me is this: Worship Jesus. Focus on Him. Put your trust in Him. Find hope in Him. In Him you’ll have all that you need. In Him you will find life forevermore, in relationship with God Himself.
The Bread of Life from the House of Bread
The baby Jesus born in Bethlehem arrived in a village that was entitled by the joining of two Hebrew nouns – one proper noun, the other a genitive (possessive) noun. Bethlehem means “House” (bait) “of bread” (lechem). It is shocking to think a town that was named “the House of Bread” – Bethlehem – hundreds of years before Jesus Christ came to earth, would then be the place where God would sovereignly choose to present the One who would be called the Bread of Life.
Jesus said of Himself in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”
You see, Jesus knows there’s a void in our lives that all the distractions, entertainment, and even family gatherings can’t fill. And Jesus came to be the One who would offer a relationship, a new life that would change everything – one that would change you and I from the inside out.
Sometimes I get really distracted around the house. I get so focused on making sure our furnace is working properly, that the leaves are blown out of the gutters, and that there’s food on the table that I tend to get distracted from what really matters. When our son Hudson was one or two years old he would sometimes sense my distracted-ness and come over to me, put his little hand on my cheek and say, “Papa, look at my eyes. Look at me Papa. I want to be with you…”
We can become so easily distracted by everything surrounding the Christmas event that we lose sight of Christ. And God simply want us to look to His Son and worship Him.
Later on in the same chapter in John’s Gospel, in verse 51, Jesus elaborates on the same life-altering message:
“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:51)
God came. He moved into the neighborhood of sinful, rebellious, ridiculously distracted human beings. Jesus, the second person of the Triune God came down to earth – God incarnate – to offer Himself as the Bread of Life so that we could have real, eternal life and peace with God in Him…in Jesus Christ alone. He did not come to simply be a moral teacher or an example of how to live a nice life and treat people right. He came to be the Savior, the Messiah.
And here’s how He accomplished His mission: He came down from heaven, lived a sinless and perfect life, and then offered up His life as the only perfect and complete substitute for our sins on the Cross. He died and was buried, and then after three days He rose from the dead in victory over sin and death. And after being seen by hundreds of verifiable witnesses, He ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven – His saving work is complete.
I believe this is exactly what Jesus was hinting at in John 6:51 when he said, “and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” He is saying, that He would offer Life to all who will believe in Him, through His body, His blood, as the sacrifice for our sins. That’s the Good News of Jesus.
And here’s the crux for you and me: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40)
More than a Reason
So let’s not simply “make Jesus the reason for the season,” but instead look at Him – for who He is and what He accomplished through His perfect life, death, and resurrection – and worship Him as the Savior of the world. Look to Him as the centerpiece of Christmas, but not just for Christmas but also for your entire life. Jesus isn’t the reason for the season, unless we actually come to Him and find in Him new life, eternal life, and all that we need.
Charles Spurgeon beautifully declared this truth, “Having made Jesus your all, you shall find all in Jesus.”
Perhaps most of us might say, “I’ve already heard all this before, I’ve heard the Gospel that Jesus came to live a sinless and perfect life, that He died on the Cross to be my substitute, and that He rose again… And I remember the time I placed my trust in Christ alone as my personal Savior.”
But if you and I are honest, we realize that we’ve become just as distracted as the next guy or girl. You realize that you’re more excited and more focused on the event of Christmas rather than on Christ. And God is saying: Come to Jesus and Worship Him. Find in Him everything that you need. Look at the Son.
Yet for others, you think you’ve heard this before too, but right now is the first time it really is connecting, the first time it actually makes sense. And God is saying, “Come to my Son Jesus Christ and trust in Him as your Savior.” Trust in what He accomplished through His perfect and complete life, death, and resurrection. Trust in Him to do what only God can do… come to Jesus. So I invite you to come to Jesus and find new life now and eternal life forever with God.
Come look at the Son, Jesus Christ. He is the centerpiece. He is the One come to save, redeem, and forgive. Everything else is meaningless in comparison to Jesus Christ. Come to the Bread of life who was born in the House of Bread and find new, eternal life in Him. You will never be the same.
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” (Augustine, Confessions, Lib 1,1-2, 2.5, 5: CSEL 33, 1-5; translated)