It’s Christmas time and houses are being decorated, stores are having sales, and everyone is planning where they will be on Christmas. I John 1:1-4 tells us the purpose of Christmas. Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
Christmas is about the word incarnation. We sing it every year in our Christmas carols, especially in “Hark! The Herald Angels sing.” Charles Wesley wrote this hymn and one verse says, “Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see. Hail the Incarnate Deity.” The Apostles Creed doesn’t use the word Incarnation, but it teaches the doctrine of the Incarnation when it says, “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.”
Our text, I John 1:1-4, tells us the purpose of Christmas. The first two verses give us the teaching of Christmas, and the second two verses tell us the purpose of Christmas. The teaching about Christmas says it is doctrinal and it is boldly historical. Christmas is doctrinal. God has become human. The divine has taken up a human nature. Christmas is also historical. The manger, the resurrection is not just a story. It is something that happened in history. John is saying, “I saw him. I felt him. I heard him with my own ears.” John is an eyewitness. The point of Christmas is that Jesus Christ really lived, and he really died. It happened in history!
The gospel is that Jesus Christ came to earth, lived the life we should have lived, and died the death we should have died, so when we believe in him, we are accepted and live a life of grateful joy for him. If these things had not happened, we could not be saved utterly by grace. The doctrine of Christmas is that Jesus came! Every year I hear stories about people who fall into depression at Christmas time. If you believe these two verses and understand that Christmas is doctrinal and historical, you will understand the true meaning of Christmas.
Verses 3 and 4 tell us that Christmas is not a sweet story but that Jesus came to earth, God became flesh and lived the life you should have lived, died the death you should have died – Christmas will make your four things. The first is Christmas will make you mystical. If Christmas is true, you have a basis for a personal relationship with God. If Jesus actually came as God in the flesh, you’re going to know a lot more about God. God is someone you can relate to. Christmas is an invitation to know Christ personally. Christmas is an invitation by God to come near to Him. The gospel is that salvation is the Kingdom of God coming down into this world. The test that you know what Christmas is about is that you become more desirous of personal relationships with other people. Look at verse 4 – it says I want you to be united in a community. I want you to be united in belief. Jesus says I am doing all this, so my joy will be complete. Jesus already has joy but he wants us to have joy.
John says: I can’t have complete joy unless you believe. God himself has gotten involved in the mess we have made of things and because of this we can have the joy that God has. If you believe in Christmas, it makes you want a relationship with your neighbor. It makes you want to reach out to those who are thirsty, hungry or lonely. This what it means when we say, “Have a Merry Christmas!”