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The Light of Christmas

If you are anything like me, then Christmas is your favorite time of the year. Yes, we wear Christmas sweaters we drink, peppermint milkshakes, and we make fools of ourselves trying to ice skate. It wouldn’t be Christmas otherwise. But my favorite parts of the season are those quiet moments when we come together as families and churches to worship the Savior in the manger.

Each year our family sings, Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful. But did you know that verse two sings,

God of God, Light of Light

Lo, he abhors not the Virgin’s womb, very God, begotten, not created.

These words are taken from the greatest Creed the church has known, the Nicene Creed. I hate to deflate the Christmas spirit. But did you also know that many who walked through the doors Christmas Sunday, do not believe that Jesus existed before he was born in a manger? That raises a troubling question. Do we really know the true meaning of Christmas? For only one who is God himself, eternally begotten from the father’s essence is qualified, let alone capable of saving fallen humanity. If he is not the eternal Son, true God of true God, how can he grant us that greatest of Christmas gifts, life everlasting?

Christmas is a season of hope. And our greatest hope not only came at Christmas, but also still awaits us one day. As the Apostle Paul said to Titus, our blessed hope is nothing less than the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. But unless our Savior this Christmas is the great God himself, the one who descends into our darkness, out of the glory of His everlasting light, we will never enjoy the blessedness and bliss of that beatific vision.The mystery of Christmas is that this great hope of heaven has condescended as light into our darkness. Click To Tweet

The mystery of Christmas is that this great hope of heaven has condescended as light into our darkness. And yet, as the book of Hebrews tells us, this radiance of the glory of God, from cradle to cross, still upheld the universe by the Word of His power. That reminds me of the words of one of the jolliest theologians, John Calvin, who said, “Here is something marvelous, the Son of God descended from heaven, in such a way, that without leaving heaven, He willed to be born in the Virgin’s womb, to go about the earth, and to hang upon the cross, yet he continuously filled the world, even as he had done from the beginning.”

This Christmas as you celebrate with family and friends as you worship the Savior, let’s not forget the words of the Apostle John. This is the Word who is not only with God, but was God, the only begotten Son of the Father. Without him condescending into our darkness, we would never see his light. As the Psalmist says, it’s in his light, that we see light. And that is the only way this Christmas that we will enjoy everlasting life.

Matthew Barrett

Matthew Barrett is the editor-in-chief of Credo Magazine, director of the Center for Classical Theology, and host of the Credo podcast. He is professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the author of several books, including Simply Trinity, which won the Christianity Today Book of the Year Award in Theology/Ethics. His new book is called The Reformation as Renewal: Retrieving the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. He is currently writing a Systematic Theology with Baker Academic.

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