A lifetime of Christmas television specials asking or trying to answer the “true meaning of Christmas” question, may have our heads swimming in uncertainty. Is it home, family, giving, kindness, brotherhood, or some secret spiritual meaning that only the deepest thinkers or more indoctrinated can gather?
Scouring the pages of scripture for the answers always brings us to the same answers, but one answer stands out above them all.
It turns out that it is the same question asked by Pontius Pilate, the Roman Procurator in Israel at the time of Jesus' death. Pilate held Jesus in custody and he alone had to decide his fate, even though he knew the Jews had delivered Christ to him out of spite and jealousy.
Pilate asked this question:
“…What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” (Mt 27:22)
Oddly, Pilate's question is the answer!
In fact, it is the only answer.
Understanding Christmas and why so many choose to fight against it is centered on Pilate’s question.
Is it nativity scenes, Christmas specials, church plays with little children, family gatherings, gifts and good will – perhaps, in part? But the question of what we will do with Jesus the Christ is the entire meaning of Christmas in a single interrogative.
The question is the difference between celebrating his birthday and celebrating his birth. His actual birthday means nothing, but his birth is the salvation of man.
It is this question that raises the ire of the atheist and calls to the divine nature of true men. When the question is properly answered it produces new life.
Jesus said it best – “I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
We must look to the Apostle Peter for the perfect answer to Pilate’s question. When Jesus Christ asked Peter, "Who do men think I am?" and then, who did Peter think he was, Peter answered…
“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16:16b)
Peter’s answer leaves only one universal question and that is – "What will you do with this man Jesus?"
We would be remiss if we left out a third and final question.
In this season of searching for the perfect gift, it might amaze you to learn that Christ also urged us to search for the perfect gift just by asking one important question.
The woman at the well in Samaria asked a lot of questions to Jesus and she argued some religious points with him about the proper form and place of worship. Christ diverted her attention away from the liturgy and ceremony.
Jesus drove the matter home by calling on her to recognize who he really was and to ask him for a gift. To wit:
"Jesus answered and said unto her, 'If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.'" (Jn 4:10)
Over simplistic? Not at all. In fact, Christmas does come down to the three most important questions any man or nation will ever ask.
1.What will you do with the man called Jesus? “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
2.Who do you think he is?
3.Will you ask him for the gift of eternal life?