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The Real Meaning of Christmas
Luke 2:11-14


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Christmas Eve—December 24, 2008

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

In a recent nationwide survey, Americans were asked “What is the most important thing about Christmas?” and then they were given a list of possible responses.  The shocking thing is, only 33% answered “The birth of Christ” is the most important thing about Christmas.

What are we celebrating here this evening?  What is the real meaning of Christmas?  On the first Christmas Eve the angels sang out to the shepherds what the real meaning of Christmas is:  “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

“For unto YOU is born.”  I actually enjoy getting pre-printed holiday letters, and Terry and I send one out with our Christmas cards.  Of course, if we had the time we would prefer to send everyone a personal letter, a personal greeting.  There is something special about receiving a hand-written holiday note.  I have an aunt in Washington State that I have only met a couple of times and it marvels me that every year she sends a four or five page hand-written letter, a personalized message just for me.

God’s Christmas greeting, God’s Christmas message, is sent to YOU, PERSONALLY.  “For unto YOU is born.”  God sent his Son into the world for YOU.

“For unto you IS BORN.”  This “Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” is a real human baby, but he is also divine, God in the flesh, God come down from heaven and made man.  The Apostle Paul says, “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body. . .  For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him. . .  For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”  “For unto you IS BORN.”  Over six centuries before his birth the prophet Isaiah had foretold: “Behold, the Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel,” which means, “God with us.”  That is who this “Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” is: “God with us.”  “For unto you IS BORN.” The Gospel of John puts it this way: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . .  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David A SAVIOR.”  God’s Son came into the world for a very specific purpose: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  God’s Son came into the world to be your Savior, to make up for your sins with his life and his death.

The Babe of Bethlehem lived out on earth a perfect, holy life.  And God credits his Son’s perfection, his Son’s holiness to you.  God does not see the shortcomings and failures of your life.  Instead, when God looks upon you he sees nothing but perfect holiness and the perfect fulfillment of his will, because his own Son’s perfect earthly life is credited to you.  “For unto you is born this day in the city of David A SAVIOR.”

Some 33 years after this Babe was born in the little town of Bethlehem he would die about 12 miles to the north of where he was born, put to death on a cross outside the city of Jerusalem.  His death was actually according to God’s plan, the fulfillment of God’s eternal plan for the salvation of the world.  Jesus put it this way: “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Jesus gave his life as a ransom to pay for your sins, suffering in your place the punishment your sin deserved.  The Apostle John says: “The blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin. . .  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”  He sacrificed himself for you, and on account of his sacrifice your sins are all forgiven.  As the Apostle Paul says, “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not counting men’s sins against them.”

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David A SAVIOR.”  The angel told Joseph, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  The very name “Jesus” actually means “Savior.”  He saves you from your sins by his perfect life and his sacrificial death on your behalf.  And his resurrection from the dead God’s way of announcing: My plan of salvation is fulfilled; my son’s life and death is worthy to pay for the sins of the world; his sacrifice is accepted on your behalf, and your sins are forgiven.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, WHICH IS CHRIST.”  The Greek “Christ” and Hebrew “Messiah” both mean the same thing: The Anointed One, THE one selected by God.  Peter says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”  Jesus is THE Christ, THE Messiah, the only way to be saved, the only way to heaven.  Jesus puts it this way: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ THE LORD.”  “Joy to the world, the LORD is come. . .  Jesus, LORD at thy birth.”  The “Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” is the Lord, YOUR Lord.  That means you trust in him, you serve him, you worship him, your whole life is devoted to him.  “Oh, come, let us adore him, Christ the LORD!”

So, let’s ask ourselves that survey question: “What is the most important thing about Christmas?”  The answer is found in the angels Christmas message: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”  That is “The Real Meaning of Christmas”—for you.

Amen.

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