I’ve heard it said that “Merry Xmas” takes Christ out of Christmas, an assumption that may be based on X being the mathematical symbol of the unknown. After discovery, X rays got their name for being a type of energy previously unknown in the scientific community. Also, some African-American members of the Nation of Islam have replaced their last names with X for “unknown,” because their enslaved ancestors had their true last names replaced with those of their masters. (Malcolm X, for instance, was formerly Malcolm Little.) But the reason for X replacing Christ in Christmas is that it’s the first letter for Christ in Greek, so “Xmas” is just an abbreviation for “Christmas.”
Some Christians prefer Christ not be associated with Christmas due to the holiday’s origin in pagan beliefs. I wonder if they’re against watching the Olympics too, which originally were in honor of Zeus, one of the Greek gods who allegedly dwelled on Mount Olympus. Perhaps they are, and I respect their opposition to what bothers their conscience. Taking part in pagan worship, however, is something else entirely. I personally have no problem with celebrating Christ’s birth as a holiday while ignoring all the myths people have attached to it. Had earlier Christians invented the same holiday to be celebrated on a different day of the year, instead of using it as a replacement for a pagan holiday that was celebrated on December 25, there would be no controversy.
Christmas is supposed to be about Christ’s birthday (not Santa Claus). He was God in the flesh, so some “wise men” worshipped Him and brought Him gifts following His birth (Matt. 2:1, 2, 11). Now people give Christmas gifts to each other and that’s not a bad thing. Jesus did say, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) So gift-giving is a good way to honor His birth, which was like no other. He was born after His cousin John the Baptist (Luke 1:57-63; 2:4-7), yet He existed before John (John 1:15). The only “beginning” Jesus had was when He “was made flesh” (John 1:14). His body, not His Spirit, came into existence approximately 2,000 years ago, and it’s highly unlikely the day was December 25. But that’s the day people celebrate it, an event significant enough that the weather phenomenon El Nino, Spanish for “the Child,” got its name because it comes around this time of the year. A virgin bearing a Son who is God incarnate is indeed significant.
“Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isa. 7:14) Immanuel means “God with us” (Matt. 1:23), and being born of a virgin was the foretold sign of His arrival in the flesh. Because the Hebrew word translated “virgin” in Isaiah could also mean “young woman,” critics have said the New Testament’s writers erroneously interpreted it to mean “virgin.” But how could being born of a young woman, a common occurrence, be a sign of anything significant? Only a virgin birth could be what sets Jesus apart from everyone else’s arrival in this world. Christians are God’s adoptive sons and daughters (John 1:12; Rom. 8:14; II Cor. 6:16-18; Gal. 4:4-6; Phil. 2:14, 15; I John 3:1, 2), but Jesus was God’s “only begotten Son” (John 3:16).
Joseph did not expect Mary to be pregnant before their wedding and thought she had been unfaithful. He was very merciful and planned to separate from her privately instead of having her publicly executed (Matt. 1:9), as happened to adulterers under the Old Testament’s law (Deut. 22:22). (Although Joseph and Mary hadn’t yet had their wedding, they were betrothed, which meant much more than an engagement does today. They were already considered husband and wife.) Before Joseph separated himself from Mary, an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him Mary was pregnant with God’s Son (Matt. 1:20, 21), who was actually God Himself. There can be only one “Lord of lords,” a title given to God and Jesus both (Deut. 10:17; Rev. 17:14). So rather than thinking about Santa Claus and the rest of that nonsense this Christmas, I hope you think about God’s arrival in the flesh.
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