The “Death” of Christmas: Christ’ Birth Foreshadowed His Death But when the time had fully come

, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. -Galatians 4:4 As we approach the Christmas season, people will begin to think more about the reality of the Son of God. Around this time, churches will also see an increase in attendance because of the Christmas holiday. Culturally, the true essence and meaning of Christmas has been lost from generation to generation. It was once understood that Christmas celebrated the birth of Christ. In latter times it appears that the true meaning of Christmas has been divorced from the Person it was once intended to celebrate. We must ask ourselves what does Christmas truly symbolize? Why was Jesus born? Throughout this article we will come to understand why Jesus Christ was born and what reality that has on the life of a Christian today. It is important to understand that Jesus was born but it is vitally important to understand why Jesus was born. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he fully explains to them why Christ came into the world. Paul says, “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Gal 4:4). Christ was born into this world to redeem individuals from the enslavement of the law and make them sons of God. According to the providence and foreknowledge of God, Christ was born into the world at the perfect time to fulfill His Father’s will. Whether Jew or Gentile, if apart from faith in Jesus Christ, we are all subsequently under the law. The law is God’s moral standard. Apart from a Mediator, we will be judged on the basis of God’s law. God has provided us a Mediator in the man Christ Jesus, who lived the life we could not live and died the death we should have died, to provide us with eternal life.

Jesus’ overall purpose was to die; to lay down His life for His sheep and give them eternal life. As Isaiah says, the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all … Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though the LORD makes His life a guilt offering (Isa 53:5-6, 10). We must take into account that it pleased the Father to crush Jesus. It was a pleasing act of lovingkindness to offer up His only Son as a perfect and pleasing sacrifice for those who would believe upon Him, to find their righteousness in His perfect work and not in themselves. Jesus has always been God’s plan A regarding salvation, Christ is our Redeemer; He has redeemed us by His death. So as Christmas draws near, it is important to recognize that the birth of Christ also foreshadows His death. In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth, he reports that there were wise men who came from the east to worship the One who was born the king of the Jews. The wise men brought three gifts along with them on their journey but this does not necessarily mean that there were only three wise men that brought them. Over the years, tradition has added the case for ‘three’ wise men rather than an unspecified number as suggested in Scripture. I believe significance should be placed on the gifts and what they symbolized over against the men who brought them. Matthew says, And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh (Mt 2:11). Even as He was a child, the wise men displayed the correct response while in the presence of Jesus, falling down before Him as they worshiped. As a babe Jesus received homage and was recognized as the king of the Jews, Savior and Lord. The wise men brought treasures, each with a significant meaning behind it. The gifts gave testimony to Jesus’ status as a king and foreshadowed His death as well. The gold

symbolized his kingship and would provide currency for their journey to Egypt. Frankincense was used ceremonially for the altar of incense in the tabernacle, it was the only incense permitted on the altar (Exodus 30:9). Christ’s death would eventually become the last acceptable sacrifice for sin offered unto God. His death became a sweet smelling aroma unto the Lord. The myrrh was a spice/perfume that the Jews placed on the bodies of those who have died, this ritual usually happened before burial. The wise men brought myrrh to Jesus’ birth to symbolize His ultimate purpose, His death. What does the life and death of Christ mean to those who believe in Him today? Paul tells us, And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son then an heir through God (Gal 4:6-7). Through faith in Christ Jesus we are no longer slaves to the law but rather sons of God indwelled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ birth was not intended to inaugurate the Christmas story that would be told from generation to generation. He was born to die, to redeem us from the law and the penalty of sin and death and to extend eternal life to all that believe. Merry Christmas.

Written by: Alonzo L. Medcalf Revised by: Shanika B. Hart