Why the Christmas Story Never Ceases to Amaze
Across cultures, people have sought to flee oppression and escape persecution from the beginning of recorded history. A recurring theme in Western classical literature and in modern classics such as Superman and Disney originals, which revolve around the struggle between good and evil, is the need and critical role for a rescuer or savior. The ultimate rescuer and savior for mankind would be a “messiah,” who would vanquish evil, oppression and falsehood once and for all. It is no accident that only Christianity has its roots and its entire reason for being in the messiah Jesus Christ. No other religion makes the claim that it was founded by a messiah.
Meaning of Christmas
Without a doubt, Christmas is a magical time of year not just because of the appeal of peace and a guiding star, as well as decorations, light displays, and volumes of wonderful music, but specifically because it marks the birth of Jesus Christ who came into this world as the son of God — the Messiah and savior for all who accept him. Christmas is really about internal and eternal things rather than external and temporal matters.
So many people think approaching God is an impossibility. For them, Christianity appears to be a religion with questionable appeal because of the perception that it is like all the other religions that require giving up certain bad habits and behaviors and performing good works in order to approach God. Surprise, surprise: Christ reminds us in Matthew 11:30 that, “My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” This was illustrated through a learned Jewish Pharisee whose life revolved around living up to stressful demands of the Mosaic law. When he asked which was the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus answered simply that if we love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, we will have fulfilled all the laws.
Even non-believers know there was something different about Jesus. For one thing, Jesus Christ — being God, affected history with such an impact that He split time, dividing all human activities and events into happening before his coming (called B.C.) or after his coming (called A.D.). Christ had to have had a supernatural impact for non-Christians around the world to agree to dividing history in two.
How and Why People Can Trust That Christ is the Savior
First, Jesus Christ is more historically verifiable than any other person who lived in that ancient time and era — including such luminaries as the Roman emperors, Aristotle or Alexander the Great — because of the number of eye-witness accounts that were recorded in writing within a generation of his life. Christ is the only person in history who was pre-announced starting 1,000 years before he was born — with eighteen different prophets from the Old Testament between 10th and the 4th centuries B.C. predicting his coming birth, life, and death. Hundreds of years later, the circumstances of Christ’s birth, life and death validated those prophecies in surprisingly accurate detail. This is unique to Jesus Christ — no one else in human history.
Second, Christ lived, and not only demonstrated his otherworldly power to heal and perform the ultimate miracle of bringing the dead back to life, but he set the absolute highest standard of love possible — being willing to die to give life to others. As Jesus prophesied, his resurrection confirmed God’s power and plan — providing “seeing is believing” evidence by bringing Jesus back from the dead and buried in a tomb to being alive, thus providing the people with living proof of who He was. In fact, Jesus made 10 separate appearances to his disciples between the resurrection and his ascension into Heaven — a period of 40 days. Some of those appearances were to individual disciples, some were to several disciples at the same time, and once even to 500 at one time. This was not hearsay, but a matter of record of multiple separate eye-witness accounts that were recorded in writing.
Third, no other religion teaches that God became flesh. In other religions God is too high, otherworldly, and pure to be accessible in terms of having a communion with believers. In Christianity, God had his Son born in the humbleness of a stable and had him raised in Nazareth, a small and very poor town that was one of the lowest in social status in Israel because He wanted his Son to be approachable by people from all walks of life. Unlike other religious paths that require certain formalities and good works, the Christian approaches God not by his or her works but by simply a humble recognition that Christ gave his life for our sins—that he paid the price for us — and that through Christ we can have a direct relationship with God — a two-way personal relationship of communion with God.
Christianity is Foundational to America
Christmas — that is Christianity — is foundational to the formation of America, for if Christ had never been born and died the way He did, all of history would have been different and neither Columbus nor the Pilgrims would have received or have been motivated by the good news of salvation through Christ to explore or establish a new community with a higher purpose in the New World.
There would never have been a constitutional government created in the way and time that it was in America, without two necessary conditions: First, the foundation of recognizing man’s unalienable rights of freedom and equality that came out of the teachings of Christ, but not fully recognized until the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century; and second, the unprecedented collection of Christian human genius that came together — rather amazingly at the same time — people we call the Founding Fathers, who were 95% Christian in their beliefs. It was their extraordinary biblical, historic, and classical learning, faith, wisdom, temperament, and practical experience that enabled them to write and frame the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and its Bill of Rights. Equally important, those Christian founders knew the potential depravity that exists in everyone that can lead to abuse of power and tyranny. For this reason, they structured the government with checks and balances between the three branches of government, but also through the federalist system of division of power between the states and the federal government.
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So profound was the accomplishment of the Founding Fathers that it far surpassed achievements of Periclean Athens in Greece, Cicero and the Roman Republic, Florence under the Medicis or any other nation. The founding of America was the greatest political and civic event in all human history, which is why domestic and foreign evil enemy forces relentlessly work to destroy the United States.
The constitutional republic formed by the Founders provided for and protected individual rights of freedom and independence such that America achieved material prosperity more rapidly than any other prior civilization. Additionally, the American constitutional framework enabled people to move closer to the divine image in which all people are created free and equal more than they would have achieved under any prior system.
To summarize the Christmas message, it’s remarkable that Christ had no servants, yet everyone called him master. He had no formal education or degree, yet the educated Jews called him rabbi and teacher. Jesus had no medicines, yet he was desperately sought out as a healer. He had no army, yet emperors and kings feared him.
History shows that so many levels of human advancement were made possible by God who became man, born in the humble circumstances of a dirty stable in the small village of Bethlehem, a speck in the vast Roman Empire. And while that empire would crumble and fall, Jesus, who had neither an army nor won any military battles went on to become the Lord and Savior for people who believe all over the world. For, as He said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.”
Scott Powell is senior fellow at Discovery Institute. This article is a vignette out of his latest acclaimed book, Rediscovering America, which was #1 new release in history for eight straight weeks at Amazon. Reach him at [email protected]