The purpose of Christmas (Christ’s Coming)
Jesus, the Son of God, was born into human flesh, God’s gift to humanity, to become one of us in every way except having no sin of His own, so He could be the perfect sin sacrifice for us and die on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins. This is the gift we celebrate each Christmas Day: salvation born. Yet Jesus promised to one day come again. That will be the final day, the day of judgment as it is known. Our Catholic friends put it simply: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
For many, even Christians, we don’t think about that second coming, as after 2000 years of waiting, it’s likely we will not witness Jesus’ second coming to earth in our lifetime. For those who do think on it, the idea can be most frightening. Although Christians, whose salvation is secure may look at the returning Christ with their heads held high, for He is bringing salvation to those waiting for Him, the second coming of Christ, an intrusion on life here as we know it, can be an alarming event to actually witness. Imagine stepping outside to pick up your morning paper and seeing the face of Jesus coming, lower than the clouds, descending on earth.
And His purpose for that second coming: to judge the living and the dead! Jesus Himself said, “Men will faint with terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:26-27)
What we have just celebrated is Jesus’ first coming, something none of us fear. For this coming had a purpose too, as Jesus Himself said, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)
Jesus, at what has become Christmas, came to be born of man, to offer forgiveness for the sins of man, to end enmity, tension, hostility between man and God. Jesus came to bridge the chasm that was sin, so we could approach God’s throne of grace, as we are redeemed to God. The angels who announced His arrival declared, “Peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14)
Again, Christians have nothing to fear, yet the Christmas picture of Jesus’ first coming is far less frightening than what will be the second coming of our Lord. His Christmas coming: not to judge the world but to save the world through Him. And His second: to judge the living and the dead.
We can still celebrate His first coming, and focus our faith here. For in faith of Christ’s coming to offer forgiveness of sins in His name, and for the sake of His dying on the cross, we receive the promise of life eternal in Him. This is a Christian’s comfort and joy as we remember Christmas, His first coming, and look forward with our heads held high, to His second.
Our churches are: St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fredonia (672-6731), Immanuel Lutheran Church in Gowanda (532-5342), and Trinity Lutheran Church in Silver Creek (934-2002).
Rev. William Novack is the pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fredonia