By Tim Sullivan


The “official” Christmas season is known as Christmastide or the Twelve Days of Christmas (hence the famous song) and lasts from December 24, Christmas Eve, to January 5, the eve of Epiphany. The Epiphany is traditionally observed on January 6, to celebrate “the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi”(as stated in the American Heritage Dictionary).

I confess I get a real thrill out of the Christmas season with it’s twinkling lights, the tinsel and the smell of cut pine that is so much a part of this season. I love to sing Christmas hymns, and I can still get a little teary-eyed seeing a production of Charles Dickens’s wonderful morality play of repentance, “A Christmas Carol.” I love to see the joy on my children’s face as they tear into their gaily-wrapped presents. (And who am I kidding? I don’t mind tearing into a few myself!)

But for too many, the joys of this season have been stolen away. When they think of Christmas, they think of mass merchandising. They echo the sentiments of old Mr. Scrooge: “Merry Christmas? Out upon Merry Christmas! What’s Christmas-time but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, and not an hour richer? If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart!”

Please, don’t misunderstand me. Concerning the celebration of Christmas, I am persuaded that the sentiments expressed by the apostle Paul are the most Christian:

Romans 14:5-6a:
One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it...

Therefore, at the risk of sounding the schoolboy, I will subtitle this article, “What Christmas Means to Me.” Frankly, I marvel at Christmas. I believe God Almighty uses this season to bring the world face-to-face with the birth of his Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. No one who has ever heard of Christmas can say they have not heard of Christ. They are without excuse.

Most scholars dismiss the notion that Christ was born on December 25, 1 AD. I can’t help but be amused, however, by the wide spectrum of dates proposed by equally learned men as the true day of our Lord’s birth. In the final analysis, it is not important what day or year Jesus was born. The important fact is that he was born. On that joyful day, there was celebration indeed.

Luke 2:13-14:
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Christmastime is a special time to remember the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ. But whether we choose to regard the day or not, we are to honor the Lord Jesus Christ. To honor the Son is to honor the Father.

John 5:23:
That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

True Christianity is the worship, the adoration, of the Son of God. Again we read the words of Jesus: “He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.”

What does this say about those who claim to love God but deny that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world? Many people think their eternity is secure because they believe in God. But the doors to eternity do not swing open to all who believe in a Supreme Being. Eternal life is given those who believe on God’s Son.

John 3:17-18:
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

The words of Jesus speak directly to the matter.

John 8:54b-55a:
It is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:
55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him....

John 8:19b:
... Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.

One will never know the Father until he first knows the Son.

John 14:6-7a:
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also....

It is the spirit of antichrist that compels men to deny Jesus Christ his rightful honor as the Son of God.

1 John 2:22:
Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

To seek to honor the Father without honoring the Son is hypocrisy.

Mark 7:6:
He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

It is remarkable, a real epiphany of truth. “All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.”

The sad truth is, I used to be afraid of worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ. To begin with, I was unclear about what it even meant to worship. (According to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, to worship is “to adore; to pay divine honors to; to reverence with supreme respect and veneration.”) I was taught that worship of the Son was tantamount to idolatry; that worship was for God the Father only. I was in such a confused state, I was afraid even to speak to my Lord!

The terrible irony is, of course, that to make anything other than Christ the center of your worship is the surest path to idolatry. No teacher, no organization, no doctrine must be allowed to usurp the centrality of Christ in your life. Our allegiance is to him. We are Christians... followers of Christ.

By the testimony of the Scriptures, Christ is equal with God because God is his Father.

Philippians 2:6:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

John 5:18:
Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Only one equal with God could sit at his right hand. Therefore, the Son is due the same worship, the same honor, the same reverence as the Father. “All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.”

Matthew 14:33:
Then they [Peter and the disciples] that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

Remember, Jesus didn’t say, “I show you the way.” He said, “I AM the way.” He didn’t say, “I teach you the truth.” He said, “I AM the truth.” And he didn’t say, “I give you life.” He said, “I AM the life.” Jesus is the “bread of life” (Jn. 6:35). He is the “light of the world” (Jn. 8:12). He is the “door of the sheep” and the “good shepherd” (Jn. 10:7, 11). He is the “resurrection and the life” and the “true vine” (Jn. 11:25; 15:1). Jesus is the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending” (Rev. 1:8), the “first and the last” (Rev. 1:17). He is the “bright and morning star” (Rev. 22:16). And he is the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

Revelation 19:12-16:
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

Jesus Christ is God made manifest in the flesh.

1 Timothy 3:16:
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

He is the Word of God made flesh.

John 1:14:
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

And God has magnified His Word above all his name.

Psalm 138:2:
I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

Yes, Jesus came to earth “found in fashion as a man.” He humbled himself even unto death. But God has exalted that same Jesus and given a name that is above every name... even his own!

It seems that some people find it more important to emphasize the manhood of Jesus rather than his divinity. They perceive him in his humiliation rather than in his glory. Do they not realize that in so doing they denigrate the one whom God has not only exalted, but highly exalted?

Philippians 2:9-11:
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

It is to the glory of God that his Son is exalted. “All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.” Let us lay aside, if but for a moment, the controversial issues surrounding the Christmas season and let us stand together in the great mystery of godliness that is without controversy. Let us sing out in one heart and mind the message of the glorious Christmas anthem, “O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, Christ, the Lord!”


From the December 2001 issue of The Vine & Branches