O holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt His worth.
There are two times in the year which Christians around the world celebrate more than any other, Christmas and Easter. If you asked most non-Christians what they know about Christianity, they would probably speak of Christmas and Easter. Yet, how much do we really know of the celebration called Christmas, and why is it so important?
The Christmas Hymn quoted above tells the whole story in one stanza. “Long lay the world in sin and error pining.” Why was the world pining? The American Heritage Dictionary defines pine as:
1. To feel a lingering, often nostalgic desire, yearn.
2. To wither or waste away from longing or grief:.
What is man longing or yearning for, what is man nostalgic and grieving about? It is the same thing God desires. God created man to have a relationship with Him and to receive blessing from Him, but sin which entered the world at the beginning caused a separation between God and man. What is sin you may ask? Sin is anything that separates us from God, and knowing Him, having a relationship with Him.
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:1-2)
The Biblical book of Genesis, shows us that it was man who caused the separation and hid from God. God was not hiding from the man, but the man was hiding from God. That is the way it still is to this day. Men everywhere are asking “where is God?” and all the time they are hiding from Him. God immediately sought the man.
Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:9-10)
So God had a problem. He longed to have this relationship with man, but man fell into sin and relationship was cut off. Why was relationship cut off? Because a holy God cannot fellowship with sin. God’s solution was to become a man and reestablish the connection! In the Old Testament God made a promise:
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
This was fulfilled about 2000 years ago as described in Matthew 1:23 “‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’” God chose to send His Son to earth to end the separation between God and man. Under the Old Covenant, man could approach God only with the blood of bulls and goats as a representation of the death required by sin. You see, the ultimate result of this sin and separation from God is death because we do not have relationship with Him Who IS Life. Once that separation took place, man was cut off from the source of life, and death was the inevitable result. Mankind was totally incapable of doing anything to restore relationship, so God took the initiative.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
It was through the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, which is celebrated at Christmas, that the connection between God and man was reestablished. God sent His Son, his uniquely begotten Son, to become a human being, to live His life as a man, and then to suffer the death that was the fruit of sin in the place of all we sinners thus making reconciliation between God and man. Without the birth of God’s Son into the human sphere, the events celebrated at Easter, could never have happened. That is why Christians celebrate Christmas.