Christmas, for many people, is the happiest time of the year. As a boy growing up, Christmas was the holiday we looked forward to with great and eager expectations. I still remember when I received what became my favorite Christmas present at the time. A cricket bat. I guess all of us have memories of Christmas.
In this Langstaff Letter, I want us to consider the three dimensions of Christmas. In that way, we will capture the full meaning of what Christmas is all about.
THE FIRST DIMENSION – CHRISTMAS PAST
The first dimension of Christmas is, for us, to look back and meditate on the original Christmas when Jesus was born. As Franklin Graham describes it, “It wasn’t Caesar Augustus who brought Joseph and pregnant Mary to the little town of Bethlehem; it was the providential hand of God, fulfilling the prophecy of Micah spoken 700 years earlier: ‘But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days’ (Micah 5:2).
And Mary was pregnant not in the ordinary way, but through the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit. ‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel’ (Isaiah 7:14).
The divine infant born in a stable around 4 B.C. was the ‘Savior, who is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:11). The news of His birth brought ‘good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people’ (Luke 2:10, KJV). The bad news is that we are sinners, separated from God. But the good news of the Gospel is that Jesus came on a rescue mission from Heaven to save us from our sins” (decisionmagazine.com).
Let us take time to reflect on Christmas past – the story of the birth of the baby Jesus who grew up to be the Savior of Calvary. Take time to read the Christmas stories in Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels, as well as the prologue to John’s Gospel (Chapter 1) which spells out the eternal significance of the coming Jesus. Now is a time to reflect on the first dimension of Christmas – Christmas Past.
THE SECOND DIMENSION – CHRISTMAS NOW
The second dimension of Christmas challenges us concerning our standing with God right now. If we only look back, we will be tempted only to consider history, but if we look at ourselves now, it will make Christmas real for all of us who do just that.
Matthew 1:23 (NKJV) declares,” ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated is, ‘God with us.’ ”
“‘God with us’ is one of the mind-blowing truths of Christmas. A truth that dispels our fears, brings comfort to our grieving hearts, and peace to our anxious souls. With the arrival of God’s Son to earth at Christmas, we celebrate that the great, eternal, awesome God who is now with us: Immanuel” (decisionmagazine.com).
That “Christ came and died” is history, but believing “Christ came and died for me” is life everlasting. Give thanks that Jesus came, lived, died, and rose again and that He lives in our hearts.
‘Christmas now’ is also a time to remember Christians around the world who are being persecuted and tested for their faith. It is also a time to remember individual people, as well as groups of people, who may be suffering a loss this Christmas time.
We, in America, should remember the people impacted by the tornado that came to towns in Kentucky and adjoining states. (It is hard to comprehend a tornado 200 miles long). God be with those suffering and the ones who are reaching out to help them.
THE THIRD DIMENSION – CHRISTMAS FUTURE
The third dimension of Christmas concerns the second coming of Christ. He came, but he will come again. Mike Shreve suggests, “There are five primary views concerning the timing of the return of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the “catching away” of living believers:
- Pre-tribulation rapture
- Mid-tribulation rapture
- Pre-wrath rapture
- Post-tribulation rapture
- No rapture at all
Second Timothy 4:8 says, ‘A crown of righteousness will be given to all who ‘love His appearing.’ So, sincere believers can differ on this doctrine yet still receive God’s promise” (charismamag.com).
At Christmas time, we should lift our eyes and in faith anticipate the second coming of Jesus Christ. In his instructions on baptism, Paul told believers, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26, NKJV). Even communion was intended to be three-dimensional.
I realize that believers differ on the timing of Christ’s return, but I believe it will happen soon. When people ask me why I believe that, my answer is simply “Israel.” The establishment of Israel as a nation in 1948, the recapture of the city of Jerusalem in 1967, and the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel all point to the fulfillment of prophecy (See Luke 21:24).
Don’t just look to Christmas past or Christmas now, important though they are. Remember to add a third dimension, Christmas Future. Look forward to the return of Christ, the second coming of Jesus, our Savior and Lord.
A CLOSING THOUGHT
We at Kairos Ministries want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas. May you experience the three dimensions of Christmas and remember always, Immanuel, God is with us. (Matthew 1:23).