Christmas is a great time to ask why Jesus was born in the first place? Trees, decorations, songs, and gifts are only traditions that accumulated over the years. The birth of Christ had much more meaning than to create a holiday. All other religions address how mankind can be moral. Jesus addresses the harm we do to ourselves and others through behavior and attitude. To cure these effects is more important than reformation and good intentions. Even our own guilty conscience testifies that we have a problem. We can only try to do our best, but that is not good enough. At Christmas we celebrate that Jesus was born as a baby, but he was destined to be murdered!
IF these reasons that I offer here are honestly and openly examined, they can only lead to a conviction that Jesus Christ can heal our souls, comfort us in trouble, give us unexpected opportunities, provide peace within this troubled world, and a promise for eternal life.
The first reason depends on understanding that whoever explores these facts must take the entire Bible and its history as the whole story of the relationship God offers individuals. It is not scholarly research to pick and choose what one wants out of biblical history and leave the rest behind. To recognize that Jesus was crucified by Roman soldiers, is not enough. There must be a recognition of what Jesus experienced and who the Roman soldiers really were. Jesus was put on trial six times before he was crucified. First, he was tried by the Sanhedrin court and the high priest. He was then tried by King Herod and twice by Pilate, governor of Judah. Look to see the result of his abuse during that time. He had no food or water and therefore was in the process of dehydrating. On several occasions he was slapped or hit. He was flogged by the whipping of a Roman soldier. The flagellin was a whip with many tales that were embedded with nails and stones. His flesh was torn with each of the strokes. He was bleeding, but also losing body fluid. It wasn’t just that he was mocked when he was buffeted, and a crown of thorns placed on his head. That crown was made of a tree limb with spikes approximately 3 inches long and they were pressed into his scalp and forehead causing more pain and fluid loss. He was already so weak he could not carry the cross all the way to his place of execution. The soldiers conscripted a bystander to finish the walk. When the nails were driven into his hands and feet, they caused excruciating pain by the nerves that the nails contacted. Anyone with neuropathy can have a slight understanding of the horrible pain he experienced. His cross was raised with ropes and its base was thumped into a hole causing riveting and excruciating pain all over his body. There was no one to rescue him. The soldiers that did the crucifying were well-trained killers and had no intent to show mercy. Water was filling around his lungs and heart so that when a soldier stabbed him with a spear blood plus water came from the wound. He agonized and had no one around to come to his rescue.
Some would say that Jesus was never crucified because a substitute was put in his place. Surely the rabbis knew Jesus since he taught daily in the temple. Pilate even offered for Barabbas to be crucified instead but they would have nothing to do with that offer. Some would say that Jesus was in a swoon and did not actually die. He was offered some drink on a sponge and that would have only been after his unmerciful treatment which would have caused other men to die before the crucifixion. Certainly, the soldiers would not permit any type of drug or narcotic to cause Jesus to go into a swoon. There are those who investigated the crucifixion and leave out some key points to draw their own conclusions. One of those false conclusions that doubted exempted from the story was that Jesus was stabbed by a spear. To be stabbed in the heart and lungs with the spear is a critical wound. Then there are those who say he didn’t die because when they came around to break the prisoners’ legs to encourage death Jesus was already dead. Or so it seemed. Again, this would require the Roman soldiers to be in collusion with the supporters of Jesus by allowing him to live and not break his legs. That is highly unlikely. Then when Jesus was taken down from the cross and put in the tomb there are those who said he was able on his own accord to come out of the tomb. Giving the critics the benefit of the doubt, the spices that were put on Jesus’ body was very noxious I would make it difficult to breathe in the cave but that did not bother him anyway. In addition, his hands and feet were tied as part of a preparation for his body for his burial. For Jesus to come out on his own from the tomb, he would need to have enough strength in spite of all the wounds that he experienced and the loss of fluids that he experienced, he would need to free himself from the ropes and wrappings around him, found a way to breathe, had water and food, push away the grave boulder that probably weighed several hundred pounds and overcome the soldiers, to be able to say that he was resurrected.
Another reason that I believe is the teachings of Jesus. He never taught revenge against those who harmed him. He never asked his disciples to get revenge in his behalf. All through his ministry he taught love and mercy. He pointed others to the Heavenly Father and redemption. He told people it was necessary to ask God for the forgiveness of their sins. He also said that he was God. Jesus was the son of God, and he could forgive sins and raise others from the dead. For those who call him simply a prophet or a founder of religion there is a conflict of terms. If Jesus is to be venerated as such, and there is a conflict with his teachings and his identity, how can he be a prophet sent by God and yet lie claiming to be God? How can Jesus be honored for all he did in the mercy he showed while at the same time being dishonest? Either Jesus was who he said he was, or he was a false prophet and liar. There is no between choice.
Much of what we have discussed comes from the Bible. However, this same information is substantiated by secular writers. They acknowledged the fact that there was a real Jesus that was crucified. The high priests and Sanhedrin court was so afraid that news would come out of his resurrection that they bribed the soldiers who was supposed to be on guard of the tomb so that there would be no confirmation that he was resurrected. The authority of the Bible is unique. It is unique because the information in it such as geography, cities, people, and local customs are verified by archaeologists and historians and scientists. Some other religious books cannot make that claim. There are well over 300 prophecies about Jesus made in the Old Testament, hundreds of years before he was born, that were fulfilled in the life of Jesus. That is statistically impossible. The Bible teaches one of the most unique doctrines of all the world. Other religions have men seeking God and appeasing God. Only believers of Jesus have discovered that God is seeking them through his son and provides the way of salvation through the death of his son. Some questioned why Jesus had to die if he was God. The body of Jesus was the perfect sacrifice fulfilled in prophecy at his death. This is not to say that Jesus died as the son of God. Because his spirit was alive and well during the three days of his death before his resurrection. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice that culminated the need for all the Old Testament regulations and rituals in which animals were slain. The reason the animals were slain was all the way back to the beginning of time in which blood was shed for the remission of sins. And blood was shed from generation after generation throughout the Old Testament. Finally, Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice of he who never sinned and did no wrong. He is called the Lamb of God because as the Lamb reflecting the Old Testament rituals he was slain and that brought the end to animal sacrifices. Jesus said that he did not come to do away with the law but to fulfill it. And so, he did! Think about the reality of an Almighty God and humans who are alienated from him. How unrealistic it is that a human could be reunited in fellowship with God by simply asking or that turning over a new leaf with good intentions would do the trick? In a spiritual sense, mankind has committed the ultimate crime against God by disobedience. That crime deserves judgment and, therefore, punishment. Jesus took that judgment and punishment on himself in our behalf.
The only conclusion logically, or even philosophically, that can be made is that Jesus really did die for our sins. That conclusion demands a response. Our response must be that we as believers in Jesus must ask him to come into our hearts and save us from the penalty of sin. We ask Jesus to be our substitute to the Heavenly Father for our sinfulness. Once we make this request, our fellowship and relationship are healed with God, not because we’ve done anything to deserve it, but because Jesus is our substitute. That is why we asked Jesus to be our Savior. That is the real reason for Christmas.