Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Luke 2:34-35 (NIV, 1984)
The Christian calendar is made up of many holidays that are observed with different customs and degrees of emphasis depending upon one’s denomination or tradition of worship. There are two, however, that are obviously the most popular and widely observed—Christmas and Easter. In the eyes of our culture, they are vastly different. One is decidedly more solemn, and even considered divisive by some, because it marks the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for the sins of all mankind. The birth of Jesus, on the other hand, is celebrated with a season of lights, gifts, good will and parties that are enjoyed by those who have no knowledge of Jesus whatsoever.
Our culture’s willingness to inadequately categorize the holidays which celebrate the two greatest events in human history has resulted in a theological vacuum that allows society to “choose” between a loving God who gave His only begotten Son as a gift to the world or a judgmental God who required that His Son die for the sins of all.
In reality, there is no Biblical justification for allowing such a “choice.” The love and joy of the manger scene is equaled only by the mercy and grace of the risen Christ. Long before the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden, God saw the shepherds in their fields as well as the empty tomb. (By the way, that’s how, in 1719, Isaac Watts could write that “He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found” part of “Joy to the World.”)
The same God who loved the world enough to give His Son is the same God who allowed His Son to be sacrificed that we might love Him back!