There are many simple ways to see Christ in Christmas. One way to accomplish this goal is by drawing Biblical parallels with the traditional Christmas tree décor. As long as Christians are not glorifying pagan beliefs and practices, or bowing at the altar of gluttonous consumerism through our American Christmas tree traditions, then there is freedom in Christ to take what has become a hallmark of the secular world at the time we celebrate the birth of our Lord, and point it all back to Jesus being the reason for the season. With no plea to reject Black Friday shopping as the day to get your Christmas season started off on the right foot, and with no “Bah Humbug” towards the secular spirit of Christmas, here’s a list to check twice to see Christ this Christmas.
The Christmas tree is an evergreen tree, because it doesn’t lose its needles through the winter. Using this type of tree points to the eternal life that Jesus Christ offers to the world. Jesus is the one who was, and is, and is to come! (Revelation 4:8). The Christmas tree also harkens us back to the tree upon which Christ was slain, the tree by which eternal life has been given to the world. (Galatians 3:13)
The traditional tree toppers – a bow, an angel, or a star – all point to the Christmas tree representing Jesus. Bows adorn gifts, and the coming of Christ into the world is a reminder that the Father gave Jesus as a gift out of his great love for us. (John 3:16) At Jesus’ birth, Luke records a great multitude of angels proclaiming the Good News of his arrival to shepherds who watched over their flock at night. (Luke 2:8-18) Matthew tells of wise men travelling from the east, following a star to the birth place of the awaited Messiah (Hebrew for Christ). (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1-12)
The wise men from the east, who followed the star of Christ, brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, valuable gifts that were common to give to a king. If the Christmas tree is seen to represent Christ, the gifts at the foot of the tree draw us back to the gifts the wise men laid before baby Jesus as they worshipped him. (Matthew 2:11) Our gift giving at Christmas should serve to remind us that as we give to others who are in need, we are giving to Jesus. (Matthew 25:34-40) And if the gifts at the tree are seen to have come from Santa Claus, an all-knowing, all-loving, apparently all-powerful, and never dying father-figure who cares for children, it should point us to the true gift-giver, God our heavenly Father. (James 1:17)
The lights that are held up by being draped across the Christmas tree’s branches are a final touch that point back to Christians, the Church. John begins his Gospel biography of Christ by saying that in Jesus “was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4, ESV). The light of Jesus shines in the darkness of this sin cursed world. (John 1:5) The light of Jesus enlightens men as to who God is. (John 1:9) Later in his Gospel, John directly quotes Jesus as having said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). As Christians know the Lord through Jesus, and possess eternal life and the light of Christ, we become just what Jesus calls us in his Sermon on the Mount, “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).
When we look at the Christmas tree, we are reminded that Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us. The Light of the World has revealed himself, lighting the path to eternal life. As Christians are connected to Christ, we shine the light of Christ into a fallen world. The Church that is spread out across the world, and is still growing, shines as many dispersed beacons of hope in a fallen and depraved world. Jesus came, died for our sins, rose for our salvation, and is patiently waiting for more to come to know of his love and grace.
This Christmas, remember that Jesus came once with angels and with a star as the ultimate gift of God to this world, and Jesus will come again; this time with the entire heavenly host with the falling of all the stars as he returns for his chosen and holy people. Let’s help the world see Christ this December, as we hold out the Good News of Jesus Christ in all that we say and all that we do in our Christmas celebration.