Christmas cards via the post office seem to be on the decline, taken over now by the various means of communication on the internet. Whatever form of communication one uses, Christmas images and messages are very diverse in meaning using; Santa Claus, Christmas trees, snowflakes, reindeer, babies, mangers, shepherds and the list goes on. You could be forgiven if you are quite confused about what this Christmas thing is all about. Well, let me put you at ease by giving you the meaning of Christmas in four words and they are found in John 1:14.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The four words are: "The Word became flesh". Now, if you are not familiar with the Bible story of Christmas, even these four words sound rather 'alien'. So let me explain because there is an 'other-worldly' sense about the Christmas story. It includes the supernatural. The Word is Jesus and in John 1:1-2 we can learn more about what he is like for it says:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
This verse tell us that...
The Word (Jesus) is eternal: If we connect this title to Jesus, it tells us then that his life did not begin as it does for every other person at the moment of birth - in Jesus' case there in Bethlehem. He already existed because he is eternal. So therefore, he came into the world, already existing from eternity past, but he now comes as a human being to fulfill a specific role.
The Word (Jesus) is with God: This phrase distinguishes two persons; the Father and the Son. The Son is distinct from the Father but is in an eternal relationship with the Father and so therefore he is fully God just as the Father is God. Now, include the Holy Spirit and we have the Trinity - three persons, one God.
The Word (Jesus) is God: Now to make as clear as possible what is essentially a divine mystery, John comes right out and says that Jesus is God. Since he is eternal, he therefore already existed at the beginning of time. "In the beginning God created..." (Genesis 1:1). He himself had no beginning and through him all things were made (John 1:3). When Jesus became a baby, he did not give up his deity, he still remained God and will always be God.
The Word (Jesus) became flesh: The meaning of his name, Jesus (God saves), tells us why he became a human being. He came to save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). And so we have the eternal Son of the eternal Father, becoming a human being in order that he might carry out a specific mission for his Father - namely to be the Saviour of the world.
The Christmas story in four words: I'm just scratching the surface I know, but even in these few comments, may the next time you see a picture of baby Jesus in a manger on a Christmas card or wherever - may you respond like Mary and a whole host of others in the Christmas story and time since - and be filled with wonder and worship. Jesus, as the eternal God became like us (although without sin) so that we in turn could share in eternal life with him. There is certainly far more to it than what meets the eye next time you see a picture of a baby in a manger!