The first Christmas 

Christmas should be a time of year to get excited about. Time with friends and family, good food and gifts galore – what’s not to love?

The first Christmas

But the reality is that, for many, Christmas can be a difficult season. Reminders of lost loved ones and better times are painful. Financial pressures cause stress and worry.

The first Christmas, however, tells a story which can bring joy to us all.

What is Christmas about?

No, it’s not all about the presents!

We all know the word “Christmas”, but do you know its true meaning? Literally, it means “Christ sent” or “Christ partaking” and speaks of the birth of Jesus, when God became a man.

Who was born?

The declaration that foretold His birth was “‘the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23).

For centuries, the relationship between humans and God had been fractured. We were severed from our Creator, dislocated from the one Being who could bring us true joy.

But at the first Christmas, everything changed. In Christ, God not only came to us but became one of us so that the broken relationship could be remade.

Why was He born?

The story gets better – not only has God come to us, become one of us, He has come for us! The Bible explains the reason for Jesus’s coming: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).

The name Christ refers to God’s long-promised Messiah, a deliverer who would come to rescue humanity from its plight. The reason humans are separated from God is simple – we choose to be. Our pride, selfishness and sinfulness demonstrate that we have refused Him in our lives. Life without God is ultimately meaningless and hopeless – we are alive physically but dead spiritually.

The good news is that Jesus was born so we could be born again. The true Christmas story is not just that God came to be with us temporarily, but that, through Jesus, we can be with God eternally.

How can I be born again?

In one sense, you cannot contribute to being born again any more than you contributed to being born naturally. Eternal life comes to us, not because we are good, but because Jesus, who was and is absolutely good, gave His life for us. His perfect life and sacrificial death on the cross mean that through faith in Him we can receive eternal life.

Being born again is a gift and you receive it in the same way you receive any other gift – simply by taking it. However, a gift can also be refused – if we do not want what is offered – but in this case there are consequences for that. The Bible sums it up: “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

You can enjoy the gift of God or regret refusing it forever – the choice is yours. This Christmas, ensure that, for you, it truly is a season of joy by receiving Christ as your Saviour. Even if a dark cloud hangs over the season, His promise is: “you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” (John 16:22).