If you are like me you become sad when you see homes take down their Christmas lights, remove Christmas decorations, and toss the Christmas tree out to the road for the garbage man to pick up. However, the true meaning of Christmas—Jesus Christ’s birth—is about much more than the one month of celebration during December. It is about the things Christ did for us through his life and death. There are five things that I like to use to describe what Christ did on the cross.
- Substitution: Christ died in our place and took the sinners’ just punishment. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Also see Leviticus 1:1-5 and Romans 5:6-8.
- Redemption: Christ paid the price to free sinners from the power, consequences, and condemnation of their sins. “And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation” (Romans 5:9, NLT). Also see Isaiah 41:14; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Peter 2:1.
- Propitiation: God’s holy anger against our sin is satisfied through Christ’s death. “And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment” (John 3:36, NLT). Also see Isaiah 1:21-26; Jeremiah 4:27-28; 6:19; John 3:36.
- Reconciliation: Christ’s death allows for forgiveness of our sin and restoration of our relationship with God in love. “Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death” (Ephesians 2:16, NLT). Also see Genesis 3:22-24; 2 Corinthians 5:20.
- Justification: Through faith in Jesus we are instantly made right with God. “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.” (Romans 3:22, NLT). Also see Romans 1:17; 3:19-26; 4:1-5). 1
While these topics might seem academic and compartmentalized, they convey Christ’s work that he accomplished through his life, death, and resurrection. Christmas might come and go, but the work that our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished through his time does not just last for the month of December, it lasts all year long.
- These definitions are based on the class I took with J. Scott Horrell at Dallas Theological Seminary ↩