On the surface, it can seem like a strange question. When it comes to Christmas, we usually focus on things like giving and receiving Christmas gifts, eating delicious food, gathering with friends and family, and watching movies like It’s A Wonderful Life. We don’t often think about what Jesus Himself might want for Christmas.
And truth be told, some of our Christmas songs don’t help us in this regard. In the classic song “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, we hear the words:
He's making a list
He's checking it twice
He's going to find out
Who's naughty and nice, Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows when you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake
This makes it sound like all that matters is being a good person so that you get lots of Christmas gifts. And while Jesus certainly cares about the way we live, is this what He wants most from us during Christmas?
Let’s see what the Bible has to say.
In order to understand what Jesus wants most from us during Christmas, we need to look at the story of Jesus’ birth. We need to look at how those around Jesus responded when His coming was announced and when He was born. In Luke 1, we encounter Jesus’ mother, Mary. An angel from the Lord came to her and told her that she would give birth to Jesus, the Son of God.
Can you imagine being told such a thing, and by an angel nonetheless? Mary had the incredible privilege of carrying God incarnate within her womb. So how did Mary respond?
In Luke 1:46-47, Mary says,
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
Even though Mary has been given the incredible honor of mothering Jesus, she doesn’t brag or boast. Instead, she responds in humble worship to God. She understands that something absolutely staggering is happening. Something that has never before happened in the history of the world. Something that will change the course of history.
Mary realizes that God Himself is coming to earth to rescue His people. That the long-awaited Messiah, the One promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and the prophets were finally arriving.
In Luke 1:54-55 she says, “He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.”
In Luke 2, we meet shepherds tending their sheep. Imagine the scene. It’s still, quiet, and peaceful. The stars are shining overhead and the moon casts a pale glow across the ground. Then everything changes. First, an angel appears to the shepherds and tells them that Jesus has been born. He says to them:
"Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger" (Luke 2:10-12).
After the angel announces the birth of Christ, the night is suddenly filled with a massive angelic choir. A vast multitude of angels appear to the shepherds and start joyfully singing at the top of their lungs. They say:
Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men! (Luke 2:14)
Why are the angels singing? Because they understand that something absolutely glorious and astounding is happening. God Himself is coming to earth. The promises God made to His people are coming true. Salvation is coming to God’s people.
When you think about it, it’s quite an amazing thing that the angels sang so enthusiastically to God. After all, Jesus wasn’t coming to save them. Jesus was born so that we could be rescued from our sins.
And yet the angels couldn’t help themselves. The coming of Jesus is such a beautiful, glorious, overwhelming thing that the angels are compelled to worship. Like with Mary, worship simply flows out of the angels.
Mary and the angels weren’t the only ones who worshiped in response to the birth of Jesus. In Matthew 2, wise men from the east come to Jerusalem. They say to King Herod, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
This is absolutely incredible. The birth of Jesus is so significant that the stars themselves proclaim His coming. The heavenly bodies move and shift and rearrange themselves in honor of Jesus, the newborn king.
The wise men understand, at least partially, the incredible significance of what is happening. They know that someone very special, a king, has been born. This birth is so important that the wise men travel a long distance to worship Jesus.
When the wise men actually find Jesus, they are overcome with joy and awe. In Matthew 2:10-11, we read:
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The wise men know that there’s something unique and incredibly special about Jesus. Even though He’s just a young child, they fall down before Him and worship Him. They lavish gifts upon Him.
Are you starting to see the pattern?
So what does Jesus desire from us during Christmas? He is worthy of and desires our worship. He desires that we give Him praise and honor and thankfulness. He desires hearts that are overflowing with joy at what He’s done.
Christmas is not just another holiday on the calendar, like Valentine's Day or Presidents Day. God didn’t have to send Jesus to save us. We willfully sinned against God and it would have been completely just for God to punish us for our sins.
But God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. God did not leave us to our own devices. He did not abandon us. He didn’t allow us to continue to wallow in the darkness.
He sent Jesus, His only Son, to deliver us from our sins. The incarnation of Jesus Christ is absolutely breathtaking. The almighty God, the One who made the stars and the seas and the animals, became like us. The One whom the angels worship became a baby. The King of Kings was born into poverty. The Lord of Lords, infinite and eternal, took on flesh and blood.
Why did Jesus do this? Why would Jesus stoop so low? Why would He humble Himself in such a dramatic fashion?
Because He loves us deeply. Because He knew we couldn’t save ourselves. Because He wanted us to be part of God’s family and experience the glorious blessings of knowing God intimately.
The proper response to Christmas is worship. That’s what Jesus wants most from us. In the classic Christmas song “Come All Ye Faithful”, we find these lyrics:
Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee, be the glory giv'n;
Word of the Father,
Now in the flesh appearing,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
These words get to the heart of Christmas. Yes, we enjoy giving Christmas gifts to one another. Yes, we gratefully gather with family and friends. But more than anything else, we worship Jesus.
Rooted in Pastor Adrian Rogers' book A Family Christmas Treasury, this Christmas Experience includes a collection of inspiring content, activities to bring your family together, and 31 daily devotions for each day of December. Feel free to pick and choose the days and activities that fit your schedule.
So what exactly does it look like to worship Jesus? How do we worship Jesus this Christmas (and every day)?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, we read, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
We worship Jesus by consistently lifting thanks to Him for coming to save us. When we overflow with joy and thanks to Jesus, it honors and glorifies Him. It pleases Him. This Christmas, let’s seek to be full of thanks to Jesus.
In John 14:15, Jesus told his disciples, “If you love Me, keep My commandments." Obedience to Jesus is one of the primary ways that we worship Him. When we serve and love others, that is worship. When we speak in kindness instead of anger, that is worship. When we are patient, that is worship. When we give generously to others, that is worship.
This Christmas, we’ll have many opportunities to worship Jesus through obedience. When we gather with friends and family, we can seek to serve others instead of being served. As we go to work in the days leading up to Christmas, we can be generous and patient with our coworkers. When we see others in need, we can move to meet those needs.
This Christmas, let’s seek to honor Jesus through our obedience to Him.
In Psalm 96:1-2 we read, “Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.”
During the Christmas season, we get to sing some of the most beautiful, God-honoring songs. Consider these lyrics from the song “Silent Night”:
Silent night, holy night!
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth
These aren’t just empty words. When we sing these glorious truths from our hearts, we are worshiping Jesus.
This Christmas, as we listen to and sing Christmas carols, let’s be filled with worship to Jesus.
For many people, the joy of Christmas ends the day after Christmas. Once the presents have been opened and the food has been eaten, the happiness that surrounds Christmas passes.
But for us who know Jesus, we can have the joy of Christmas all year. Our joy goes far beyond gatherings and Christmas gifts and good food.
Our joy comes from knowing Jesus Himself, our King and Savior. We have been redeemed, saved, rescued, delivered, forgiven, and adopted. We have been brought into fellowship with God and can experience the joy of the Lord every single day.
Psalm 95:1-2 says,
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
Because we know Jesus, we can be filled with joy every single day. The Christmas tree may be gone, the presents may be opened, and the food may be eaten, but that doesn’t mean our joy has to stop. Jesus Himself is the source of our joy.
The angels told the shepherds that they brought good news of great joy for all the people. We know the good news and so we can have great joy.
Listen to the Experience Christmas playlist as you and your family take part in these activities.
You can also purchase the Experience Christmas Worship Collection as a digital download or CD to listen offline.