This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. ~John 3:16-18 (The Message)
The whole Christmas story is wrapped in love. Without love there is no reason to hang up lights, or wrap up presents, or pass out cookies. Without love there is no reason to light the candles or put up a Christmas tree. Christmas without love would be nothing but a bleak midwinter day with no festivity, no carols, no comfort and no joy.
Without love we would continue to meander from day to day, alone with no hope for the broken mess we’ve found ourselves in. Without love the world that we turned upside down and shook inside out by sin and destruction would stay that way, with no helping Savior to make it right again.
But because the whole world was created in the tenderest of care and wrapped up in lavish love we have a Christmas to celebrate. We have a reason to make December 25th a special day, to celebrate, and to put a star up on the top of a tree. Because of love we have authenticity behind the comfort and joy, merry spirits, and bright hopes that this season stirs up. We get to go beyond the artificial well-wishes and season’s greetings, and a beauty beauty goes far deeper than the dusting of a white snow or the shimmering of tinsel on the tree. Because of love we were given far more than gift cards and new sweaters. Because of love we were given Christ.
This is how we know what love is. This is the measure of God’s love for us: that He sent His one and only son. This is what makes Christmas, this profound, self-giving love. This is how we know that God loved us: that the little baby Jesus was born.
It’s really more than that though. It is one thing to be born. To stoop to humanity and box up deity into the confines of flesh and blood. If this was all the story was we would know that God was interested in us, that He wanted us to know who He was, and cared about having a relationship with us. But the story does not end here. Christmas was the beginning of a narrative that ends at Easter. The birth of the baby Jesus led to the death of the Messiah.
So there’s a tree in my living room. A tree shining with lights and tinsel and ornaments. A tree that brings beauty and brightness to its environment and light to the home. But this Christmas tree that we decorate and celebrate around each year does not stay a tree. Come January it is chopped down, taken out, and thrown out. And at Easter it will become a cross.
Christmas is wrapped up in love because it is only the start of the journey that takes our Savior to Golgotha so that He might show us the ultimate act of love. It is only when we remember this truth, when we celebrate this wondrous love, that our Christmas celebration becomes something more significant than plastic merriness and fake expressions. To know the comfort and joy that this season claims to have, we must be completely wrapped up around the love that was shown for us on the cross.