In the lead up to Christmas the stores resound with ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Rudolf’ and ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’, and many other similar songs. But if you have not zoned out, if you are listening, in Australia at least, you will sometimes hear a real Christmas carol in the mix – with lyrics that recall the birth of Jesus Christ.

For most people these real Christmas carols are irrelevant. Nice. A sentimental reminder of a childhood fantasy, perhaps. But still irrelevant. And for some people, for an increasing number of people, not something they actually want to hear or to think about. Not something that they want to intrude into their comfortable, godless lives.

Real Christmas carols remind us of the birth of Christ, and that birth is very confrontational.

If it was just another ordinary human birth it would be nothing to celebrate – Jesus Christ would be no more remembered than any other baby born in that place and at that time. He would have lived and died, just like everyone else. And though he would have been mourned by those who loved him, he would have been forgotten within a couple of generations, or less, by everyone else.

It is what happened after his death that confirms that his birth was remarkable: He rose again – from real, legally attested, physical death, to real physical life affirmed by over four hundred witnesses.

This real, physical resurrection validates all the claims that were made about him prior to and at the time of his birth:

That Jesus Christ is indeed ‘Immanuel’ – God with us.

That Jesus Christ is the ‘Mighty God’, the ‘Everlasting Father’.

That Jesus Christ is ‘the LORD our Righteousness’.

That Jesus Christ is ‘the Son of the Most High’.

That Jesus Christ is ‘the holy one ... the Son of God’.

This real, physical resurrection validates all of the claims that Jesus Christ made about himself:

That he, the Son of the Father, is the only one who truly knows the Father.

That all who have seen him have actually seen the Father.

That all who believe in him believe in the Father.

That all who know him know the Father.

That he and the Father are actually one.

This real, physical resurrection validates all the claims the New Testament writers made about him:

That Jesus Christ is the eternal Creator and Sustainer of all that exists.

That Jesus Christ is the source of Life and Light.

That Jesus Christ holds the position of supreme authority, with all created beings subject to him.

Paul summed up this impact of the real, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, when he wrote of:

‘... the gospel ... regarding his son, who according to the flesh was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.’

This is the reason we celebrate Christmas. This child is no ordinary child. This birth is no ordinary birth. This birth is unimaginable, inconceivable. Here something that is utterly unique, unheard of and unrepeatable. It is the birth, as a human being, of the one who is the eternal God. It is the Creator becoming a creature. It is the immortal becoming mortal. It is he who is pure spirit becoming real flesh.

And he did it so that, as one of us, he would legally stand under the just wrath of God as our substitute and representative, so that we could escape that wrath.

Why celebrate Christmas? That question is a no-brainer. More to the point is the question: why not celebrate Christmas? Here in this unique birth the existence of God is confirmed. And here in this incredible act of grace we are assured that God is for us, not against us.

Scriptures: John 19:31-35; 1Corinthians 15:3-8; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Jeremiah 23:6 (KJV); Luke 1:32-25; Matthew 11:27; John 14:6-9; 12:44; 10:30; 1:1-5; Colossians 1:15-17; Ephesians 1:19-22; Romans 1:3,4; Hebrews 2:10-17.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2017