How Christmas Points to Jesus
Look at the Christmas tree. I want to use this image to remind us how God uses Christmas to point me to Jesus during the Christmas season. Keep the image of the Christmas tree in your mind. The challenge during Christmas is to remind ourselves of Jesus. Because Christmas is loaded. It is loaded with symbols, traditions, and ideas. Many of which don’t point to Jesus.
Christmas should communicate Christ. I want to share with you how Christmas can point others to Jesus. Let’s start with Christmas trees. A Christmas tree is like a family tree.
When we speak of Jesus during Christmas, we usually talk about His origins, His family tree. For example:
In the birth stories in the New Testament, we are told a different shade or color about Jesus. In Matthew 1, we see a story of a king in the royal family tree of Jesus. Matthew 2 shares with us the story of the wise men and how they came to visit the one born King of the Jews. Matthew is the family story of Jesus from the point of view of a king.
In Luke 1, we see the human family tree of Jesus. The genealogy or family tree takes us back to Eve, the mother of all of the living. Luke emphasizes the humanity of Jesus. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is shown as a servant. The Gospel of Mark contains no family tree for Jesus because slaves have no history. In John 1 we are told the divine family tree of Jesus. John shows Jesus to be the God-Man, God’s Son.
In each of the four Gospels, we see a family tree for Jesus. Family trees continue downward from the past to the present, and eventually the future. We look at people in the past and see how they are connected to us today. So we go from the top and move downward.
This family tree in Hebrews is very much like a Christmas Tree. We start from the bottom and move upwards. The bottom starts with the prophets. Then we see that the angels are involved in God’s revelation. However, Jesus is the final point of revelation or the way that God reveals Himself. Jesus is the top of the Christmas tree.
While all other family trees state the beginning of Jesus. This text reminds us that Jesus is the end. He is the end of God’s revelation.
God’s self-disclosure in his Son is the climax and fulfillment of all previous revelation.1
In other words, God communicated with us through various means and at various times. But the ultimate way that God speaks to me and you today is through Jesus Christ.
The ornaments on a Christmas tree speak to you and me. Perhaps, you like decorating your tree with blue and silver. Maybe you collected ornaments from various places. Or you were given ornaments as mementos. Each ornament is a memory in a time of a special relationship.
In Israel’s history, the prophets spoke them about God:
“Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways.” (Hebrews 1:1, CSB)
Let’s picture this text describing a Christmas tree. In this case, the Christmas tree points to Jesus. So everything on the tree would point to Jesus. (I have included a picture which illustrates how this can the case.)
First, there are the ornaments. The writer of Hebrews talks about the past. He talks about prophets that speak about Jesus. Let’s imagine each ornament on this tree as if it pointed to a prophecy about Jesus.
Ornaments on the Cosmic Christmas Tree of Jesus might include:
Micah – who was told that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem
“Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for me. His origin is from antiquity, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2, CSB)
Isaiah – who told us that Jesus would be born of a virgin
“Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: See, the virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14, CSB)
Isaiah also saw that a son would be born and eventually His destiny
“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:6–7, CSB)
Jacob – who was told that Jesus would come through the royal line of the Tribe of Judah
“The scepter will not depart from Judah or the staff from between his feet until he whose right it is comes and the obedience of the peoples belongs to him.” (Genesis 49:10, CSB)
Jeremiah – was told that there would be a descendant of David who would rise up
“In those days and at that time I will cause a Righteous Branch to sprout up for David, and he will administer justice and righteousness in the land.” (Jeremiah 33:15, CSB)
David – who saw how Jesus was God’s Son
“I will declare the Lord’s decree. He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” (Psalm 2:7, CSB)
These are just a few of the words that God spoke through the prophets. Then there are other ornaments, that decorate the Christmas Tree of Jesus.
There are also ornaments speak of the characteristics of Jesus. The ornaments on a Christmas tree tell us something about the family who decorates them. The ornaments on your Christmas tree tells everyone something about you. Maybe you like to collect certain types of decoration. For example, I collect nativity scenes from around the world. Each nativity scene tells me something about the culture from which it came.
The same is true with a Christmas Tree. It tells us something about the person who decorates it. In the case of Jesus, what does His Christmas Tree say about Him? Well, the writer of Hebrews gives us seven characteristics of his relationship with Jesus. Other ornaments that decorate the tree of Jesus tell us much about how Christmas can point to others to Jesus. What should say about Him? When someone asks why Christmas is important. You can talk about Jesus the same way the writer of Hebrews did. You can use Christmas ornaments to point to your relationship with Jesus. Essentially, you can use the Christmas tree to teach others about Jesus.
SEVEN CHARACTERISTICS OF MY RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS
Jesus is my:
“…God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe through him.” (Hebrews 1:2, CSB)
Jesus inherits everything. God gives Him all things. God is the ultimate gift-giver. He gives gifts to us, but only if we join His family. The inheritance of that family is given to Jesus. So while God gives gifts. He says that through the New Testament. Those gifts are limited to His children who have decided to follow Jesus.
It’s as if God has a gift workshop. He produces all of these gifts. They are sitting under the Christmas Tree. But it is Jesus’ Christmas Tree. You have to let Him hand out the gifts to you.
What gifts could Jesus hand out to you this Christmas?
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, CSB)
They are other good and perfect gifts
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17, CSB)
There are spiritual gifts that Jesus directs the Holy Spirit to give each and every Christian
“One and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as he wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:11, CSB)
You can’t look to someone else’s present. The Spirit has given you a spiritual gift for you to use.
“According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the proportion of one’s faith; if service, use it in service; if teaching, in teaching; if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:6–8, CSB)
So there are these gifts under Christmas Tree of Jesus. We have to discover them. But there are other parts to the Christmas Tree of Jesus.
“…and made the universe through him.” (Hebrews 1:2, CSB)
Jesus is my creator. God created. But Jesus was there alongside Him.
I suggest you think of creation this way: The Father as the Architect (Genesis 1:1), the Son as the Contractor (John 1:1), and the Holy Spirit as the Carpenter (Genesis 1:2). The analogy is far from perfect, but the fact is all three Persons of the Godhead were involved in the creative process. Creation occurred from the Father, by the Son, through the Holy Spirit.2
Jesus did not create the world and everyone in it for no purpose. There was meaning behind His creation. There is meaning behind your creation. Jesus created you for a purpose. He created you for far more than what you think yourself. Why? Because Jesus is my radiator.
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory…” (Hebrews 1:3, CSB)
No, I am not talking about the radiator in your car.
A reflector is something that bounces light off itself. For example, the moon is a reflector of the glory of the sun. When you see the moon, you’re not seeing its own light. You’re seeing a reflection of the sun. Not so with Jesus, for He not only reflects the glory of the Father, but He radiates the glory of the Father. That is why there is neither sun nor moon in heaven. Jesus is the Radiator. He’s all the light we need.3
Jesus is my light. He points me in the right direction. He helps me see where I need to go. He can do that for you too.
“…the exact expression of his nature…” (Hebrews 1:3, CSB)
Jesus is my representer. Thank God He is.
The literal translation of the term “express image” refers to the method used to imprint coins in biblical times, whereby a piece of metal would be pounded against a stamp of the head of Caesar, making an “express image.” Although the stamp and the coin were two separate entities, both bore the same image.4
If I want to see God, I only need to look to Jesus. I can read about Him in the Gospels. I can seek Him out in prayer. I don’t need to worship an idol or seek out a ritual. I only need to speak to Jesus.
“…sustaining all things by his powerful word…” (Hebrews 1:3, CSB)
The thought here is not that of Atlas holding the world on his shoulders, but of that power which holds the internal functioning of the cosmos together. Not only has the Son created the world, but He continues to supply it with the very force without which its elements would disengage in a sudden and catastrophic separation.5
What’s going to hold your marriage together, your parenting, your sanity—what’s going to keep your world from falling apart? Only one thing: the Word of His power.6
In other words, I need Jesus to sustain me. For others to know about how that works, they can only find out through my testimony. I am sustained through the Christmas holidays by the drinking of eggnog, or coffee. I don’t make it by any other means but from the powerful word of Jesus. Jesus holds me up when I am down. Jesus helps me walk when I feel like I can’t make it. Jesus sustains me.
“…After making purification for sins…” (Hebrews 1:3, CSB)
Now at one time, Jesus made purification for all of the sins of the world. By Himself, Jesus purged all of my sins. Just as He created me, He is also purifying me. By that I mean, that He is changing me every day. The problem I have, and you have it too, is that sometimes we don’t like the changing that Jesus does in our lives. We are selfish. We want to do it our own way. But I don’t know about you, but I find that when I try to do it my own way, I get it wrong, often.
It’s almost like you and I are Scrooge. You remember him. Bah Humbug. He only wants his way for Christmas. He doesn’t care about anyone else. He has no empathy. He has no love for others. Like the story of Scrooge, Jesus comes and purifies me. He keeps purging me of my sin. Why does Jesus do that? Because He wants to lead me.
“…he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:3, CSB)
Christmas is not just about a baby in a cattle trough who is born. Christmas is about Jesus who came to rule and reign. He had to come to save me first and foremost. Because without a means of salvation, I would not be able to voluntarily fall under His leadership.
Jesus will rule and reign, in a political sense in the future. He’s going to obtain a throne, a kingdom, and the means and power to rule this world. That’s going to happen. But He starts that kingdom one individual at a time. He creates me. He saves me. He sustains. He purifies me. Ultimately, He rules me. Christmas is about following the leadership of Jesus. Just as Jesus lovingly submits to God the Father in Heaven, I lovingly submit to Jesus here on Earth. Because Christmas is ultimately a reminder of the loving relationship I have with Jesus.
On Christmas Day some years ago, a little boy was seen going in and out of his church several times. When asked, “What gift did you ask of the Christ child?” he replied, “I didn’t ask for anything. I was just in there loving Him for a little while.”7
1 Gareth Lee Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2012), 86–87.
2 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 1436.
3 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 1436.
4 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 1436.
5 Louis H. Evans Jr and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Hebrews, vol. 33, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1985), 53–54.
6 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 1436.
7 G. Curtis Jones, 1000 Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1986), 63.