Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Post-Christmas Lesson

When I was younger, I used to watch Sesame Street.
Let me rephrase that.
When I was younger, I wanted to live on Sesame Street.

I watched that show multiple times a day, almost every day; I never got tired of it. One reason I loved it was the songs. I remember one in particular song around this time of year (well, two, but, for the sake of this post, one) from one of the Christmas Specials (I can't remember which one, but I'm pretty sure it's not Big Bird Searches for Santa):

"Keep Christmas with you| All through the year.| When Christmas is over| Save some Christmas cheer.| These precious moments,| Hold them very dear.| So keep Christmas with you| All through the year."
Pretty profound for a kids' show.

Now, I know the song is talking about saving the love, joy, and general "Christmas-y" concepts to enjoy throughout the year, but I cannot help but draw all of this back to God.

You see, Christmas is truly about love, joy, peace, hope, etc., but the reason for that is not because of the people, the gifts, or even the "Christmas Spirit". The reason for Christmas and all its associated marvels lies in its name - Christ.

Christ, or Messiah in Hebrew, is a title meaning "Anointed One".

Okay, well, what does that mean?

In Jewish society (the Jews were the ones awaiting the Messiah, after all), anointing was a physical demonstration of the appointing of one by God to a specific calling, notably the high priest, prophet, or king.

So, we have this Anointed One, Jesus, who is appointed by God for a specific task - namely the rescue and redemption of mankind from sin to God. Which means that He had to have been free from sin as well. (Think about it: can one mired in sin rescue all others from their sin? No, only one who is already free from sin can bring others to freedom.) Because mankind is inherently sinful (thank Adam and Eve for that), to be born free from sin, the Messiah must have been conceived sinlessly, i.e. from the seed of a sinless being - God.

Enter the "Immaculate Conception". As was prophesied (Isaiah 7:14), God begat a child with a virgin woman, Mary. Why a virgin? Two reasons: 1) To prevent any doubt as to whether the child was really the son of God and 2) to be miraculous - normally, to conceive, a virgin must lose her virginity; therefore conception without a loss of virginity is miraculous. (no, IVF hadn't been devised and I'm pretty sure that would constitute a loss of virginity anyways)

So, we have a sinless Anointed One, born of a virgin, who is supposed to free mankind from sin, which is separation from God. God is holy, perfect, and just. As such, God cannot stand sin as it is less than perfection and neither can he ignore it as to do so would not be perfectly just. So, to save mankind from sin, someone had to pay the punishment and the only one able to pay the punishment for another is one who has not committed the crime. (otherwise he's merely doing his own punishment) It is for this reason, redemption, that Jesus the Christ came into this world as a sinless, Anointed One.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him might not perish, but have eternal life" - John 3:16
Oh, I forgot to mention, the punishment for sin: death, and by death I mean a final, total, spiritual death following one's corporeal death, while the end of those redeemed by Christ is life eternally in the presence of God.

This is the message of Christmas. This message of God's love, redemption, and forgiveness and our subsequent peace, hope, and joy is the reason we celebrate Christmas. This is what we must keep with us, carrying it all through the year, reminding ourselves and telling others this very same message of the Anointed One, Christ Jesus.