Linus Got it Right!
Linus got it right. The meaning of Christmas is, without a doubt, the celebration of the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinitarian Godhead.
But what does it really mean when Linus, reading from Luke’s gospel, says that Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus? Or, how are we to interpret the expression when people say that Jesus is the reason for the season?
It seems humanity at large will tolerate, and even sometimes—during seasons like Christmas and Easter—actually, sorta like Jesus—as long as he is contained in one of the places designated for him by their sentimental value system.
Jesus makes a wonderful poster child of hope for the deprived, the homeless, and children around the world born into poverty.
Jesus is the ideal emblem of “a good teacher,” and model for civil revolution against oppressive political and religious establishments—and greedy capitalists.
Jesus is humanity’s premiere vision of love—usually when he’s turning the other cheek, and being starkly contrasted against his passive-aggressive and egotistical Old Testament Father.
Matthew’s gospel complements Luke’s story, and shines another fascinating light on the meaningfulness of the birth of Jesus.
“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:22–23)
Matthew informs us the birth of Jesus was a real event that happened in the real time-space continuum we call history. His birth was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy given by Isaiah that God would come to us to be with us. Isaiah prognosticated:
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, And shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Jesus was more than “a good teacher” or a “model of love”—and he certainly was those things—he was the manifestation of the Almighty. He was the express image of the Creator and Judge of the universe. He was God coming to man as a man, robed in flesh.
Scripture has much to say about God’s coming to mankind:
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: ” (Romans 8:3)
“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. ” (Colossians 2:9)
“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; ” (Hebrews 1:3)
“God with us” means the pursuit of God to reconcile with sinful humanity. What people so often fail to consider is that we sinned against God, not the other way around.
God could have let each of us die in our sins and we would have received justice, not injustice!
It goes like this: holiness demands punishment for our sins.
God would not have been evil if he would have let us have our own way and sleep in the bed we made for ourselves.
God would not have been unkind to have let you and me eat the fruit of our own planting!
God would not have been unjust if he allowed us to suffer the consequences of our own sinful choices.
But he didn’t! God is naturally and rightfully offended by our sin, and yet it is He, the offended, not the offender, that seeks reconciliation.
The judge comes searching for criminals on the run, not to throw them in jail, but to issue them pardons.
But that is not all.
Encompassed in the offer of reconciliation, we get forgiveness of sins.
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; ” (Ephesians 1:7)
We get to be restored to a pre-fall human condition.
“In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;” (Colossians 1:22–23, KJV 1900)
We get access to help in times of need.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. ” (Hebrews 4:16)
We are assured a peaceful existence with God for all of eternity!
“Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, And afterward receive me to glory.” (Psalm 73:24)
And that’s not even close to all of it!
The price we pay for all this is…nothing.
It can’t be purchased, only received. It is all of grace, meaning Jesus came to us to die for us, and he rose to life and continues to intercede for us.
Christmas is not about Jesus as a concept-the model, the emblem, the example. It is all about Emmanuel: Jesus coming to be with us as our friend and our Redeemer.
About Scott Postma
Scott lives in North Idaho collecting more books than he'll ever read in a lifetime. He helps people cultivate their capacity to perceive and appreciate the good, the true, and the beautiful by sharing rich insights into the arts and humanities, meaningful perspective on faith and culture, and valuable tips on writing and teaching. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.