When we celebrate the birthday of a great man, we don’t normally devote much time or attention to the story of his birth. Take George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, for instance. When I was a kid we celebrated their birthdays separately, but now we combine their birthdays and call it Presidents Day.
When we celebrate George Washington’s birthday, we don’t say much at all about his birth. We tell the story of him chopping down the cherry tree, and the story of that bitter winter at Valley Forge. We call him the father of our country and we say that he was first in war and first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen. We remember him as our first President, but we don’t say much at all about his birth.
The same goes for Abraham Lincoln. We may mention that he was born in a log cabin, but we quickly move on to the stories of the clever young man who came to be called “honest Abe.” We tell the story of the Lincoln Douglas Debates. We remember him as our Civil War President, and especially as the man who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves. But when we celebrate Lincoln’s birthday, our celebration is not focused on his birth.
So what about Christ Jesus? Like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the reason why we celebrate the birthday of Christ Jesus is because of what He did with His life after He was born. We remember His Sermon on the Mount and His parables. He changed water into wine, and walked on the water and fed the 5,000. We remember that He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. The manger stands in the shadow of the cross.
We marvel that He did all of these things for us. His name is Jesus because He came to save us from our sins. He was born so that He could die, and He died so that He could rise from the dead. Yes, Jesus is the reason for the season. In other words, we don’t just celebrate His birth, we celebrate Christ Jesus.
Pastor Michael J. Albrecht