by Ernest O’Neill
What Does Christmas Mean?
Most of us learned at Sunday School that Christmas is the birthday of Christ: that’s why we call it Christmas. We learned also that Christ was the only-begotten Son of God, our Creator; so Christmas really meant God Himself (in His Son) came to earth as a human being. We were taught that this was the great difference between Christianity and other religions – according to Christianity, God himself became a human being. Jesus was both divine and human in a way that Mohammed and Buddha never claimed to be.
Later on many of us learned that, after His crucifixion, Jesus left the earth and returned to heaven i.e. he ceased to live on earth as a man – he went back to being God’s Son As we studied the New Testament we noticed that Jesus sometimes called himself Son of God, but at other times he called himself son of man. We learned that one title emphasized his divinity while the other emphasized his humanity.
Jesus is Human Forever
But certain verses contradict this. For example Matthew 25:31 states “when the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” But surely this is something that Jesus will do as the Son of God – surely by the time of the judgement, He will long ago have ceased to be a son of man – a human being! He will not be again the Son of God — and that only! Even in Revelation 14:14, John writes “then I looked, and lo, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand”. He’s obviously talking about heaven and the end of the world, yet he describes Jesus as son of man.
In other words, it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that Jesus did not cease to be a human being when he resumed his position at God’s right hand in heaven as Son of God – any more than he ceased to be Son of God when he came to earth as a human being. He became a human being forever while remaining also Son of God.
What Happened at Christmas?
But the facts are even more startling than this. Not only is Jesus a human being today even as he is also Son of God. BUT HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A HUMAN BEING! Actually, He was the first human being. He was the first man – that ever was!
Here’s how Paul describes it in Colossians 1:15: “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation”. In the same millisecond that God conceived His only begotten Son, in that same millisecond Christ became the first born of God’s creation. In the spaceless-timeless world of eternity, Christ, God’s own Son, became the first human being. And all of us “were created in Him (Ephesians 2:10). Indeed Colossians 1:16 states “for in him all things were created”. That means you – and me!
Christmas simply marks the moment in earth’s time and space when Jesus, the One Great Human Being, in whom all of us were created, revealed his humanity to us. But Christmas really looks back to the moment in eternity when our Creator bore His Son and asked him to become the human forefather of all of us. This is partly why Isaiah 9:6 states “for to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace — Jesus is your everlasting father, as God is His Father. So Christmas is a world-shaking event for you and me! It is our birth in Christ as human beings. In a sense, Christmas is the birthday of all of us who are human-beings.
Do we have human fathers and mothers? Yes – just as Jesus had. But our real father is Jesus Christ, just as His real Father is God, the Creator – who created us in Jesus!