What does Christmas mean for the Christian? How is this time of year distinctive from other forms of holiday celebrations? We care about family, gift giving, "peace on earth and goodwill toward mankind" but the basis of, the reason for, and expressions of our joy are very specific.
Christians believe that something unprecedented happened approximately 2,000 year ago in a remote area of the Middle East. We believe that the eternal God who created all things and sustains the existence of all things, who has no beginning and no end, who sovereignly rules over creation and guides history toward a final moral examination, who has no equal, whose perfection in all degrees and directions guides his knowledge and wisdom, who transcends space and time ... humbled himself and visited mankind in the form of human flesh, breathed air, felt cold, hungered for food, thirsted for drink, and longed for the loving touch of a mother. The baby whose birth was miraculous ushered in a new era where God's relative silence had been broken and his promises to send a Messiah were fulfilled. The arrival of the long-expected One was announced to the humble and righteous by angelic messengers. He was feared by kings. He was praised and worshiped by wise men.
His name is Jesus of Nazareth, and his life was no ordinary life.
According to eyewitness accounts, he did miracles, performed signs and wonders, taught the way of God with authority, saw into the hearts of people, confronted religious hypocrisy, made claims of equality with God, loved sinners, raised the dead, freed people who were under spiritual oppression, fed thousands of hungry seekers, and taught concerning the kingdom of God as no man ever has.
Ultimately, Jesus was put to death by the Romans at the insistence of the Jews, and his closest disciples understood that his death, just like his life and birth, has a special and unique significance. Jesus' death took place during the time of Passover, and he was known to be the true "lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Jesus' death paid the debt which God requires for our sin, and those who humbly confess that their own efforts of self-righteousness are in no way adequate to God's holy requirements
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