Christmas (the birth of Jesus) was necessary because of something that God could not otherwise do. Now that sounds like a strange statement. Isn’t it true that nothing is impossible for God? Not really. Is it heretical to say that? If we look at what the Bible as a whole says, it tells us about a number of things that God cannot do. He cannot lie. He cannot sin. He does not tempt anyone nor can He be tempted. Once you really think about it along those lines, there are quite a number of things that God cannot do.
So what is it that He cannot do which ties in with Christmas?
To understand God, we must understand His attributes. Most of our own ideas and society’s understanding of what is good, just and true comes from the fact that each of us have been made in the image of God (though that image is darkened because of sin and is thus warped in many cases). The two most important attributes of God I want to focus on in relation to Christmas are His justice and His love. See this previous blog for a more in-depth discussion of Godꞌs attributes.
God is just/fair
God is 100% just. God could never just let someone who has committed sin to escape punishment. Why? Because He is “obligated” by His attribute of justice to always do the just thing. Obligated is not a really the best way to describe it because it is His very nature to do what is just all the time. The fact that we have sinned at all makes it impossible for us to enter into the presence of a holy, perfect God. God’s own justice prevents us from “coming to the father” as sinners. And the only alternative to being God’s people is to be the devil’s property.
One of the themes of the Old Testament is the holiness of God. There are 613 laws in the books of the law. God knew that we could not keep them all, so he set up a complicated sacrificial system to help “cover” people’s sin and abate His punishment. Theses laws set up a standard that we could never attain to. Its main purpose is to show us how holy God is and how much we fall short of being perfect like Him. God is very strict with people in the Old Testament, partly because His holiness and justness demands it, but also so that they might be “examples” for us, as Paul says in 1 Cor 10:1-12. Paul also explains that the law was not given so that we could attain holiness through it, but so that we could better understand the absolute holiness of God. He says in Galatians 3: 19, 21b-22: “Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised.” “If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ. ” (NLT)
God is love
Realizing that we could never obtain the holiness that God requires, it is here that the great message of salvation in the Bible comes into play. “God gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) As sinners, God’s attribute of justice will not allow us sinners into His holy presence. But His attribute of love has made a way, through the coming of Jesus, Who gave His life for us, the Substitute Sacrifice, Who lived the perfect life, Who was worthy to die in our place, for “God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all.” (Rom. 8:32). God, out of His great love for us, satisfied His justice through Jesus dying in our place so that we could be justified and forgiven and be able to enter into His presence sinless, without any blemish, and thus snatched us from the devil’s claim over us as sinners.
“Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past.” (Romans 3:25-26)
It was a high price to pay, and it was not easy. Christmas shows us that one of things God cannot do is that He cannot just let anyone into His Holy presence. He cannot just declare us sinless and set aside His justice. He “had” to provide a 100% perfect sacrifice, and His attribute of love moved Him to do that by sending and sacrificing His beloved Son. The devil can no longer claim that we, God’s people saved by grace, are sinners and therefore justly belong to him and deserving of hell.
God fulfilled the requirements of justness through Jesus. The devil could have justly “objected” that God was not acting justly had He not paid a just price for us. Satan means accuser, and he not only accuses us, he accuses God if He does not act according to His attributes, mainly God being just since Satan “profits” from people getting what they deserve and being under his power. But the Good News is that God did the just thing and out of love paid the perfect price. “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” 1 Peter 1:19-19. And He absolutely had to pay that price, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
He made a way where there was no way
So that is the miracle of Christmas. God loves us, but could not justly allow us into His holy presence, stained as we are with sin, filthy rags. “A wretch like me” says the song, “Amazing Grace.” Jesus says “no one comes to the Father but through me.” It is impossible for God to just let us sinners into heaven. So He made a way where there was no way. His Son became a person in this world, leaving perfect heaven, suffered as a man, and gave His life as a substitute sacrifice, dying in our place, taking our punishment. “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18)
So now, if we put our faith, our trust in Him, and He becomes our all, God no longer looks at our grave imperfectness, He instead sees the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, and accepts it on our behalf. For “if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2) Once we do this, we are no longer on the path that leads to destruction, to hell. Because of His coming, His sacrifice, His resurrection, His mercy, we have been snatched from the devil’s power and are new creatures with a sure hope that we will live eternally with Him.
The following are more “Christmas verses” which give more Biblical context and teaching about what was talked about above.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:16-19)
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (John 12:46)
Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. (John 12:27)
But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. Galatians 4:3-4
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-10)
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. (1 Tim. 1:15)
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Tim. 1:9a-10)
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Heb. 1:1-3)
But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Heb. 9:26b)
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. (1 John 1:1-3)