Fill in the blank, “__________ is the reason for the season.”
We’ve been conditioned by lapel pins, T-shirts and bumper stickers to say that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” But what if that’s wrong?
Now, it came about because people who celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ perceived that the holiday was getting drowned out by all the trappings: gift-giving, shopping, eating, decorations, Santa, etc. So they wanted to remind themselves, and everyone else, that the reason Christians celebrate Christmas is because we’re celebrating the birth of the Son of God.
Leaving aside arguments about whether Jesus were born on December 25th or not (my response: who cares?), I’d like to think that we Christians can come together in joy over the fact that the Son of God was born. Born, lived, died, rose again … that’s big stuff!
Still, we’ve got this holiday—a whole holiday season—during which we celebrate that birth and it is annoying to see someone proclaim that “Christmas is about giving” or even “Christmas is about family” in such a way that they never even mention the Son of God. So we rebel against the commercialism or take down all decorations that don’t have the nativity depicted in/on them and tell people that Jesus—as opposed to gifts, shopping, eating or anything else—is the reason for the season.
But then again, maybe he’s not.
Recall with me, if you will, one of the greatest of all Christmas stories. Jesus is traveling through Jericho, great crowds have gathered to see him, but one guy who desires to see the Lord can’t because of his height. So Little Z climbs up in a sycamore to get a look at the Master and what does Jesus do? Rather than just trying to avoid eye contact with the nut (ha!) in the tree, he stops and says, “Zacchaeus, you come down. I want to eat at your house today!”
Being such a well-known Christmas story, you probably remember what happened next. Zacchaeus takes Jesus home, they eat lunch (or, as it’s called in some cultures, “lunch”), and Little Z is so struck by the Lord and overwhelmed with love for him, that he vows to pay back everyone he has cheated.
Isn’t that a great Christmas story? What? You didn’t know it was a Christmas story? Well, let me point you to the verse where Jesus tells Little Z not just why he came to his house, but why he came to earth:
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (NIV)
You see, Jesus isn’t the reason for the season: you are! He didn’t come because he had a cool song he wanted Isaac Watts to write (“Joy to the World”), he came because he wanted to find you! So, this Christmas, I encourage you not to focus on a little baby in a manger, but the full-grown Son of God who came to find and save you!
Merry Seasonal Greetings to You!