Our culture celebrates his birthday, but often treats Jesus like Elmo.
The way he is often presented in our culture, you would think Jesus was just a nice guy who walked around telling everyone to love each other, like Elmo or other similar characters for children. But if one reads the story of the Lord’s life in the Gospels, one will find a person with much more depth and appeal than this cartoon version.
Jesus was not put to death because he told everyone to be nice to each other, but rather because he repeatedly and consistently presented himself as God in the flesh. On many occasions this was so obvious to his listeners that they tried to attack him. For example, in John 10 the crowd began to pick up stones to kill Jesus “for blasphemy, because you, a man, are making yourself out to be God.”
People can claim all sorts of things, of course: some Roman emperors claimed divinity, for example, yet no one today thinks that they were really divine. But Jesus did much more than simply say he was God. Throughout his ministry, he constantly did things that only God could do. He cured the sick, cast out demons, had miraculous control over nature, and even raised the dead! His miracles were witnessed by thousands of people and are even recorded in contemporary accounts outside of the Bible.
The greatest proof of the Lord’s claims is his resurrection from the dead. Jesus publicly predicted that his enemies would put him to death and that he would rise from the dead soon afterward, and this actually happened! He was seen after the resurrection by hundreds of eyewitnesses. Their testimony is the most trustworthy kind, because they left everything behind and were willing to suffer martyrdom in order to proclaim the Good News about Jesus.
So that leaves us with a choice to make: is Jesus who he claimed to be, or not? If he is not, then he was either a liar or a madman, and it is a waste of time to follow him or even to celebrate his birthday! But if Jesus is God, then our lives have to change. He can’t just be a cute baby we remember once a year in a Hallmark card.
Jesus is indeed who he claimed to be—God in our midst—and this is what makes Christmas worthwhile. We celebrate that God loved us so much that he entered into our world and became one of us in every way but sin. He deeply desires for you to share in his joy and his life. If you have been away for a while, why not give Jesus another chance this Christmas to show you that he really is who he claimed to be?