Often, the Christmas season passes all too quickly because we’re content to celebrate it on an entirely earthly level. The things we enjoy—family reunions, time off, food, the exchanging of gifts—become the entirety of our celebration. These things aren’t bad, and it’s not wrong to rejoice in them, but if Christmas time is just these things, we’ve missed something more important.
As C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither…. We shall never save civilisation as long as civilisation is our main object. We must learn to want something else even more.”
This time of year, it’s important to lift our gaze from earth to Heaven. Don’t focus on trees, lights, and presents. Instead, fix your gaze on the higher reality those things point to: Christ. One of the ways we do this is by spending time with God in his Word. When we turn to the pages of Scripture, we are confronted with the awesome and true claim that the baby in Bethlehem is God incarnate—God become man.
Growing up, my family would make it all the way through Christmas without ever thinking about Jesus. God was never mentioned. I was never confronted by the claims of Scripture. I was never challenged by the words of Isaiah, “Behold your God!” (Isa. 40:9). It wasn’t until I turned to the Bible that my notions of Christmas and God were changed. Scripture doesn’t allow us to dismiss Jesus as some kind of holiday gimmick. It won’t allow us to strip Jesus of his authority.
For example, Hebrews 1:1–2 says, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
The author is saying God spoke in the Old Testament days through prophets. Then verse two starts with a “but.” That pause sets us up for a very important point: Now God has spoken to us in his Son. God’s relationship with man has changed. God hasn’t changed, but how he relates to us has.
Now, in the last days, the word of God has come not merely by the lips of a prophet, but in the form of God’s own Son, the truer and greater Prophet, “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3). And he has been appointed “the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
God’s Son created all things. Without him, nothing was made. This means that the one who became the baby in that manger is the one who caused everything to exist, and everything is his. He is the uncaused cause, the explanation needed by physicists and cosmologists to explain where everything came from.
I used to dismiss Christians as simpleminded and stupid. I now realize the answers to the questions most plaguing scientists aren’t found in the ivory towers of elite universities and their state-of-the-art laboratories. The answers are found wrapped in rags, in a manger. He is the reason for the way the world is.
The mystery of the universe finds its beginning in Jesus, the God-man, and Christmas was always the plan. The first Christmas gift was the eternal Word, the Cause of all creation, entering the creation to rescue all creation. God gave to mankind the agent of rescue to save humanity and set the cosmos right again. This is where our gaze should be focused.
While lights, trees, and presents are fantastic parts of Christmas celebrations, the thing that makes this the “most wonderful time of the year” is God’s ultimate gift to humanity: Jesus, the uncreated Creator. Jesus, the one of whom we sing, “Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all he brings. Risen with healing in his wings.” This is what Christmas is all about.