Houses are covered in lights, Christmas trees are decorated, presents are wrapped, and the radio is playing Christmas music again. It’s the week of Christmas, and everyone is ready for that much anticipated day.
For Christians, the Christmas season is a time to celebrate the birth and coming of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This week, instead of sharing the nativity story of Christ’s birth, I’d like to take a different approach. This post is about the meaning of Christmas—that Christ was born—but instead of focusing on how Christ was born, I want to focus on why Christ was born.
“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” — Hebrews 2:14-15 (NASB)
Christ, the Son of God, left His place in heaven to become flesh and blood. He was God, but He was also man.
But why was Christ born?
The first reason is because a man had to be the sacrifice for our sins.
In the Old Testament, we read about the priests operating from the Law. A requirement of the Law was to offer sacrifices to God for their sins and the people’s sins so that they could be holy in the sight of God. However, Hebrews 10:4 says it was “impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”
“Sacrifices and offering You have not desired, but a body you have prepared for Me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of Me) to do Your will, O God.” — Hebrews 10:5-7 (NASB)
What do the Old Testament sacrifices have to do with Christ’s birth? The animal sacrifices offered by the priests, because they were part of the Law, where a mere shadow of the sacrifice of a body that was to come. A man had to be the one to atone for man’s sin. However, it couldn’t just be any man.
God required a perfect, sinless sacrifice, and men are sinful. The only one without sin is God, so He sent His Son Jesus Christ to become a man. He was fully God and fully man, and He was without sin (1 John 3:4). Because Christ was sinless, His death paid the price for our sins.
The second reason is so that Christ could defeat the devil.
The devil’s power is death. God made it so that a man’s opportunity for forgiveness of sins is available during a man’s life, not after it. The devil knows this. He knows that if he can keep a man in sin long enough, that man will eventually die in his sin and face eternal judgement in hell.
When Christ died on the cross and was resurrected three days later, He rendered the devil powerless against those who believe in the name of Christ. Those of us who are in Christ no longer have to fear death because now death means coming face to face with God.
Yet, until the day we come face to face with God, we must continue to live here on earth. As men living on earth, we will sin. However, it is because of our sinful nature that the third reason for Christ is so important for those who believe in Him.
The third reason is so that He can be our merciful and faithful high priest forever.
“Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” — Hebrews 2:17 (NASB)
“Propitiation” is a big word that means “satisfy.” Christ satisfied God’s judgement when He hung on the cross and took on our sins (1 Peter 2:24). The price was paid, and Christ became our merciful and faithful high priest. Why is that important?
The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevent by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. — Hebrews 7:23-25 (NASB)
The high priests of the Old Testament were the ones who offered up the sacrifices on behalf of the people. They made intercession—they were the middle men—between God and man. However, just like the animal sacrifices couldn’t save them, neither could those high priests, and they couldn’t live forever to continually intercede. But Christ is eternal, and He holds His priesthood permanently. He is able to save us and always intercede for us forever.
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. — Hebrews 4:15 (NASB)
Christ was born, He grew up, He had a family, He had friends, and He had enemies. He experienced a wide range of emotions. He was tempted. Christ is not some lofty god who cannot possibly understand our joys and our struggles. No, He is able to sympathize with us and understand our pain and temptations. Hebrews 2:18 says that because He was tempted, “He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” Christ is a merciful high priest, and He is faithful to intercede for us and save us who draw near to God.
Christ was born to so that through His death and resurrection He could satisfy God’s righteous judgement for our sins, defeat the devil, and become our merciful and faithful high priest.
We celebrate Christmas this week, and in a couple of months, we will celebrate Easter. We celebrate Christ’s birth and Christ’s death and resurrection at two different times, but think for a moment about how they go hand in hand.
Christ was born so He could die.
As you celebrate Christmas this week, remember not just that Christ came but why He came.
Your sister in Christ,