Our lord’s name was not selected by his parents but was a part of the divine annunciation to Joseph: “And thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

Once the significance of the name, Jesus (Saviour), is lost, the meaning of Christmas ceases to exist; for this intervention of God in human history has significance only as we understand its purpose.

That the Christian Gospel is a declaration of this divine intervention is the one thing that makes it relevant to each succeeding generation.

For man this intervention must begin with a recognition of its personal relevancy, redeeming it from theory and bringing it into the realm of immediate and eternal importance.

That the purpose of Christ’s coming into the world strikes at the very root of human pride should make us doubly wary lest having seen we fail to see, and having heard we fail to believe.

Once the reality and consequences of sin are explained away, the significance of Christmas vanishes. A lovely tradition? No more so than the birth of any other man. The commemorating of a marvelous gesture of love? Not unless the “gesture” is explained. A unifying spirit of brotherly love? Not unless the reason is understood.

We say it reverently but with deep feeling: Unless the reason for the first Christmas is admitted, its celebration can be blasphemous.

Strong words? Yes, because the greatest event of all history occurred when God sent his Son into the world to save sinning men from the guilt and penalty of their sins. To deny, ignore, or minimize the reason for his coming is a slap in the face of a loving and holy God.

Deep theology? Yes, for in the coming of God into the world in human flesh there are involved truths which no man can ...

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