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  • Writer's pictureMichael Jakes

To Christmas or Not To Christmas? That is the Question

Updated: Dec 24, 2022


Rudolph. Santa. The elves. The lights. The tree. The toys. The songs. One popular song touts it as being ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. Yes, obviously I’m talking about Christmas. As a child, all these things and so much more, were staples around my house. And all of those cartoons! I can still remember them all! And ‘The Yule Log’! Just sitting and watching that fire burn as the music played, or just having it on in the background as you moved around the house. I enjoyed it all so much--and I still have it on every Christmas morning--a hopeless traditionalist I guess!

This time of the year, all my memories of the season come back to me. How I would help my mother put out fruits and nuts on the table; how we would get the colorful lights out, unravel them and put them in the windows; how we would put some of those lights on our tree, and how I would make a star out of cardboard, and wrap it in aluminum foil and and place it on top of the tree. It should be noted that I had no idea what the significance of the star was; I only did it because the Christmas trees in the cartoons on television did it that way. And how could I forget the time that I decided one Christmas Eve that I was going to 'wait up' for Santa--because I wanted to see him for myself--only to be disappointed in the morning because I had fallen asleep. These were the Christmases I remember.

As a child growing up, I knew nothing about Jesus. I remember going to church on Easter a few times, but that’s about it. But when I got saved at the age of fifteen, everything changed; Christmas took on a whole new meaning. Now I really began to understood what Linus was talking about at the end of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’ I finally learned what a manger was from that song 'Away In A Manger', that I learned in school; and I found out that the three wise men may not have been just three after all. And now, as a Christian, most importantly, I began to truly celebrate the birth of Christ, and His reason for coming to earth.

You can call me naive if you want, but up until a few years ago, I honestly thought that all Christians celebrated Christmas in one way or another. I was most surprised to find out that this is definitely not the case. The reasons many Christians don’t celebrate Christmas varies. They range from ‘Christmas is not in the Bible’, and, ‘Jesus never told us to celebrate His birth', to ‘Christmas is a pagan holiday,’ and ‘Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th.’ Allow me to briefly address each; not so much theologically (though I will use scripture), but from a more practical point of view.

So, is Christmas in the Bible? I think it depends on what you mean. Will you find any of the trappings and traditions the world embraces there? No. Will you find the word ‘Christmas’ there? No. What you will find simply, is the birth of Jesus Christ; including the events that led up to that magnificent event. The Holy Spirit through the various writers go to great lengths to describe and capture the mood of the times, along with the various people groups involved. There was Mary and Joseph, His divinely chosen parents. And there was Herod the King, fulfilling prophecy in his satanic attempt to destroy Christ. What about the 'lowly' shepherds visited by angels from on high? And of course the wise men from the east. It seems that every strata of society at the time all had a part to play in this wondrous story. This tells that His birth matters. But in spite of all this, should we celebrate this birth? First, let’s define the word:

Celebrate = to publicly acknowledge a significant or happy day or event…to commemorate; observe; to honor, keep or remember.

The Wise Men

Isn’t this event, the birth of our Saviour and the author of our eternal salvation, worthy of all of this? The wise men thought so. They came a great distance to do so (anywhere from 800 to 900 miles from modern day Iran). This royal entourage, travelling this far across the desert, put life and limb on the line. In those days, there were desert thieves and robbers who inhabited the desert lands, seeking to prey upon unsuspecting travelers. Whether or not our wise men encountered these denizens of the desert, of course we do not know. What we do know, is that God was with them. It would take a powerful reason for them to undertake such a trek, but they thought they believed that He was worth it. Maybe you don't have a gift to bring Him, as they did; but it is not required. All He wants is you--just pack your praise. These magi, or kings as we call them, unabashedly proclaimed to Herod:

‘…for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him’ Luke.2:2

We read further that when they saw the star that they followed, standing over where young Jesus was, they responded by rejoicing with exceeding great joy (Matthew 2:10). This means that they were absolutely enthralled beyond measure over what had taken place! Is this not cause for celebration? And were they not celebrating?

The Shepherds

The shepherds were also a major part of this unfolding story. Their inclusion in the midst of this greatest story ever told signifies that Christ was coming for all--even those looked down upon by society. Their response to seeing the baby Jesus was also one of celebration. This is what we read in Luke 2:20:  

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had seen, as it was told unto them.’ 

I don't know about you but the glorifying and praising that I’ve been exposed to and participated in during my Christian walk, has always been indicative of celebrating every aspect of who Jesus is, and what He has done. One of the most glorious things which He has done is coming to earth for us. The words of an old song I used to sing put it perfectly:

When God became a man, He introduced a plan

That revolutionized the course of history

So many things were changed

A world of new horizons took the place of a world that used to be

Giving then took on a different meaning

Through the selfless way He showed us how to live

And all of life takes on a new complexion

When we see Him in the light He came to give.

No doubt life would never be the same for these shepherds. God reached out to them and afforded them the privilege of being a part of what was taking place. The shepherds were in agreement and concluded that the angels' words were not to be taken lightly:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

Several things are to be surmised from these verses, first of which, they were not to be afraid. Secondly, the news they were about to hear would be a cause for rejoicing--great rejoicing. Next, this joyous occasion would concern everyone. Finally, so there would be no confusion, the angels identify this Saviour who would be their Messiah. These Jews would be very familiar with the prophesies concerning the coming Deliverer, and they reacted with haste. 'Let us go', was their unified response.

The Angels

And what about the angels? They, of all involved, give us our clearest reasons for celebrating Him. We read in Luke 2:13-14:

’…And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'

Of angels, scripture makes these astonishing revelations:

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? Hebrews 1:14

Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. 1 Peter 1:12

If angels, whom God has appointed to serve us, do not even comprehend the meaning and purpose of this glorious gospel, and they paused to praise and glorify God at this time, what excuse do we have? We know, and we understand the Christ of our salvation; simply stated, if angels celebrated His birth, then why shouldn't I? Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that not only do I have the right, but I am obligated to honor, praise, worship and yes, celebrate the fact of His coming to earth so that I could be saved! I am a recipient of the results of this great grace which brought my Saviour down to earth!

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)

As to Christmas being a pagan holiday, I am very well aware of this argument. I will not take the time to go into those intricate detail here, but the truth is, whatever the reasons those involved did concerning this day, i.e., pagans and the Catholic church that then existed thousands of years ago, it has absolutely nothing to do with me now. And of course, I am well aware that many don’t see it this way, and would disagree with these conclusions. And no, I am not guilty of trying to take something evil, wrap it up in good, and make it alright. I truly believe that the birth of Christ ought to be celebrated; along with His life, His death, and His resurrection. I know I won’t change anyone’s thinking on the matter, and that’s not my purpose, but if we could all step back and take into account that these are things that we should remember daily, not just a couple of days out of the year, and that He is so very worthy of it all! Even if your mind revolts against the word ‘Christmas’, as it is with some, celebrate Him. Of course we know Jesus was not born on December 25th (shepherds would not be out in the field with their sheep on a winter night), but if I choose to honor Him on this day, or any other day or days for that matter, I do not believe my Lord takes me to task for this.

People nowadays take time to have 'birthday weekends' or even even 'birthday weeks'. With that particular logic in place, is it not proper to celebrate every facet of Christ--including His birth--every single day of the year?

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Colossians 2:16

Each year around this time, we hear the usual rants from various churches, and individuals, warning us about the ‘evils’ of Christmas. We know the history--ad nauseum. What I want to know is, what then do you do with His birth? Ignore it? Downplay it? Treat it with scorn? Lock it up in the recesses of your mind, labeling it as 'unimportant'? Or tell people they are sinning if they acknowledge it? Fine, don't buy a tree, if you don't want one; tear down the holly and mistletoe if you need to; don't fashion your front door with a wreath if it offends you--but whatever you do, don't neglect Him--celebrate Him! Away with Santa, if you choose, and all he is about (after all, Santa is ‘Satan’ spelled sideways, sort of, right?). No problem. And don’t get caught up in all of the consumer frenzy that has become a staple of the season--good job. But do not forget Jesus--ever. I know folk who praise and worship Him ferociously for this thing and for that; jumping and shouting and the like and rightfully so. But you cannot then turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the greatest miracle we’ve ever known; the very reason you can jump and shout--He came, that is, the incarnation. You see, because it was the incarnation that would pave the way for the great salvation which we enjoy. Unfortunately, folk get so caught up in keeping the letter of the law, that they step over the spirit of the law. Celebrate Jesus! 

In the final analysis, you can forget the fact Christmas means nothing more than a few days off from work for some, or an opportunity to embarrass oneself at the annual office party, and a time of general revelry for most. That’s what the world does. I choose to stand for Jesus. If He did not come, I would not be here; or else I would be here without any hope.

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Trying to describe this indescribable gift leaves me at a loss. But as inexpressible as Jesus is, it is unfortunate that He is a gift that remains unclaimed by millions. That’s Jesus. Celebrate Him!

What grace is this that brought my Savior down,

That made Him leave His glorious throne and crown. The one who made the earth, the sky and sea. Who put the stars in every galaxy! What condescension, Oh how can it be! What shame He suffered oh what agony! And then the death He died, For sinners crucified, What grace is this! What grace is this!

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

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