The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas

I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.
–John 8:12

Should Christians celebrate Christmas? This time of year, you may be drowning in a sea of last-minute shopping, weaving through overcrowded malls, or dealing with overextended credit cards and asking yourself the same question: “Why do we do this to ourselves every year?”

When people ask me, “Should Christians celebrate Christmas?” they are usually talking about a historical point. They will say, “Pastor, don’t you know that Christmas was actually a pagan holiday meant to worship a mythological god? Why are we Christians celebrating a pagan holiday?” There is some truth behind that.

For the first 300 years of Christianity, Christians did not celebrate the birth of Christ. Early Christian celebrations were centered on the death and the resurrection of Christ. But then around AD 312, the Roman emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity. Constantine took December 25–a date that had been devoted to celebrating the birth of the mythological sun god–and decided to use it to celebrate the birth of the real Son of God, Jesus Christ. That is why we celebrate Christmas on December 25 today.

Of all the pagan deities that Constantine could have chosen to link with the birth of Jesus, why did he choose the mythological sun god to link with the birth of the real Son of God? The common denominator between that mythological god and Jesus is the concept of light. Just as the sun god was a god of light, Jesus the real God is also the God of light. The image of light is used throughout the Christmas season. We see lights everywhere: on homes, at shopping malls, on Christmas trees, and on churches as well. Light is a very important part of Christmas because light is associated with Jesus Christ.

We see that same metaphor of light for Jesus Christ throughout the Bible. In the opening chapter of John’s Gospel, the Apostle John writes this about John the Baptist, who was not the light: “There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man” (1:6-9). In John 8:12, Jesus said about Himself, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” And in John 12:46, Jesus said about Himself, “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.” Throughout the history of Christianity, the Gospel writers, hymn writers, theologians, and even Jesus Himself linked Jesus Christ with light.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Night Before Christmas” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.lockman.org)