"She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
And isn't that the heart of the holiday? A Savior, born to die, to save us from the sins that we've committed: the ultimate scapegoat, the eternal passover lamb. I've always said that Christmas is about His death and resurrection as much as His birth. Without Easter Sunday, Christmas would be just another birthday.
If you have made it through advent, celebrating the tinsel and the cookies and the elf on the shelf, but somehow not yet understood the incredible love of God - that He would send His Son to earth to redeem you from all your sin-stained aches and pains - then I pray you have the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the mind to perceive that He came for you. He left the glory throne of Heaven to chase you down in your self-suficient pride and woo you to salvation.
Dear friend, there is nothing on earth that you can do to clean yourself up, make yourself right and worthy to stand before God. The thoughts you think, the words you speak, the things you do, the motivations that lead you... can never be good enough, holy enough, to earn you access to heaven, and a right relationship with God.
You can't earn it. But you can receive it.
It is the greatest gift of all. But a gift is not a gift until it is received. This gift must be received by each man, woman, boy, or girl.
Have you received this gift?
It's as simple as ripping all the paper off your Christmas morning presents. Here's a prayer that you can pray if you believe:
"Jesus, I can't do this on my own. I need You! I see now why you came to earth. You came for me. You came to save me. You came to live a perfect life because I couldn't. And then you died in my place so that I wouldn't have to. Now I get to have an eternity in heaven with You. You saved me. And I believe it! Thank You for being my Savior. Thank You, in Your Name, Jesus, I pray, Amen.
And so, with all the hustle bustle behind us now, here on Christmas Eve - the wrapping of gifts and the decking of halls is all done - we are celebrating the heart of Christmas.
Our Savior - and the Salvation He came to bring.
A very special thank you to those of you who advent-ed along with me this December. May you enjoy celebrating our Savior, unwrapping anew the Salvation He came to deliver to those who would simply receive this most incredible gift.