Walk into any store or business establishment this time of year and you’ll hear the familiar sound of Christmas carols. I was out shopping one day with my children and we heard the Christmas hymn, Joy to the World, playing from the store’s loudspeaker.
My son turned to me and asked:
“Mom, why are all the stores playing Christmas music about Jesus if they don’t believe in him?”
These weeks leading up to Christmas Day are known among Christians as Advent. The word Advent means arrival or coming. These weeks are meant to be a time of preparation as we anticipate celebrating the arrival of Immanuel, Jesus the Christ. During Advent, we focus our hearts on who he is and what he came to do.
The question is, what Jesus are we waiting for? What Jesus are we spending these weeks anticipating?
Everyone has an opinion about Jesus. If we were to ask the shop keepers who play Christmas tunes or the those shopping for presents at the mall, everyone would have some kind of response. Some would probably say that he was a good teacher. Others might say that he was a political leader. Still others might say he was a great healer or a holy man.
Even in Jesus’ day, people had opinions about who he was. “He asked his disciples,“Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ” (Mark 8:27-29).
Who do we say Jesus is? Is he the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the World? Or is he our genie who we pray to when we need help? Is he our Lord and King? Or is he a candy machine into which we dispense our good deeds and out comes our daily blessings? Is he the one and only way to the Father? Or is he one of many paths that we have chosen? Is he our Maker and Creator? Or is he more like our favorite uncle whom we love to hang out with but don’t respect as an authority in our life?
This Advent, it matters who we think Jesus is. It matters who we think we are singing carols about. It matters both now and for eternity. If we are not celebrating the Jesus of the Bible, who stated clearly who he was, than we are celebrating a false Jesus and a figment of our imagination.
The Way, the Truth, and the Life
Who is this Jesus of Advent then? He is the one promised to Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:15). He is the one the prophets foretold in Old Testament. He is the Messiah, the Savior of the world. As the angel told Joseph, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). And Jesus himself said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The Apostle Paul summarized who Jesus is well:
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:15-20).
I love hearing Christmas songs playing in the stores this time of year. And I hope that in hearing such songs, it makes people think and consider whom those songs are about. Because we all must answer the question, “Who do you say that I am?”