The true meaning of Christmas is love. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." John 3:16–17
The real Christmas story is the story of God’s Son becoming a human being in the Person of Jesus the Christ. As the creator of mankind, the Universe and all therein, God loves His creation, and according to the Biblical accounts, man has a singular distinction in God’s heart.
The physical birth of Christ was necessary because mankind needed a Savior! God is love itself. “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:8. We celebrate Christmas out of gratitude for what God did for us, we remember His birth by giving each other gifts, worshiping Him, and being especially conscious of the poor and less fortunate.
God loved His own and provided a way—the only way—for mankind to spend eternity with Him. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
Christians the world over celebrate Christmas in honor of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Various Christmas traditions have been associated with the celebration of Christmas, and different cultures celebrate different ways. The unifying factor is the historical fact that Jesus was born, c. 5 BC. The angel who appeared to the shepherds the night of Jesus’ birth said, “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” Luke 2:10–11
We celebrate Christmas because, as the angel said, the birth of Christ is “good news.” Good news is meant to be celebrated. In fact, the angel said the news of Jesus’ birth would cause “great joy” and would be “for all the people”—the joyful celebration would be universal. People around the globe would be glad for this occasion.
The three titles the angel applies to Jesus are important. Jesus is the Savior who delivers us from sin and death (Matthew 1:21). He is the Messiah (or Christ) who fulfills the Law and the Prophets, showing that God is faithful (Matthew 5:17). And He is the divine Lord who has entered our world: Jesus Almighty has taken on human flesh; God the Son and man have been fused together in an indivisible, eternal bond. (Matthew 1:23).
In celebrating Christmas, we celebrate the Savior, because we needed deliverance. We celebrate the Christ in whom all of God’s promises are “Yes” and “Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). We celebrate the Lord who in humility took on “the very nature of a servant” for our sakes (Philippians 2:6–8).
We celebrate Christmas with gift-giving because of the “indescribable gift” that God gave to us (2 Corinthians 9:15). We celebrate Christmas by stringing lights because the Light of the world has come to us (John 1:4; Isaiah 9:2). We celebrate Christmas with carols and choirs because they are expressive of joy and follow the examples of Mary, Zacharias, Simeon and the angels, all of whom extoled the Lord in poetry (Luke 1–2). We celebrate Christmas by decorating evergreen trees with stars and angels and tinsel because of the eternal life Jesus brings (John 4:14)—and stars and angels and beauty were all associated with Jesus’ birth.
In celebrating Christmas we celebrate the love and condescension of God. In Texas in 1987, a toddler by the name of Jessica McClure fell into an eight-inch well casing. Down she went, becoming stuck twenty-two feet below ground. Once people discovered that “Baby Jessica” was in the well, they took immediate action. They didn’t tell her to find a way to climb back up, and they didn’t just shout happy thoughts to encourage her. No, they went down to where she was and got her. They did whatever it took. Rescuers worked nonstop for fifty-eight hours to free her.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve fell. Down they went, dragging all humanity with them into the darkness and death of sin. And what did God do? He did not tell us to find our own way out of the mess we were in, and He did more than shout down happy thoughts to us from Heaven. No, He came down to where we were and got us. That’s what Christmas is all about—God’s coming down to rescue us, to do whatever it took to deliver us from sure death.