Those who take the time to read this article probably fall into one of the following two groups: 1) Those who want to know why in the world I would preach on this topic on this day, and 2) Those who want to know why in the world I would preach on any other topic on this day.
Let me begin by saying that I am well aware of the fact that we don’t know the day on which Jesus was born. I am also aware that while the birth of Jesus is a biblical doctrine, God never established a memorial to observe his birth as he did with the Lord’s Supper, memorializing Jesus’ sacrifice.
So why am I preaching on the birth of Jesus on Sunday, December 25? Please consider my reasons.
- Because the birth of Jesus is a biblical topic. It’s an amazing biblical doctrine. The very thought of the almighty becoming a man, not just a man, but a helpless, dependent baby is mind-boggling, and key to our redemption. But some might suggest that I preach on such a theme at a different time of the year. I must admit that such thinking confuses me a bit for I have never, in all my years of preaching, heard anyone object to a sermon on “Godly Mothers” and “Godly Father” on “Mothers’ Day” and “Fathers’ Day.” Nor have I ever heard anyone object to using “Memorial Day” as a day in which I preach a sermon on the “Lord’s Supper,” or “Independence Day” as an opportunity to preach a lesson on the freedom we have in Christ. Where’s the consistency?
- Preaching on the birth of Jesus on December 25 is merely “meeting people where they are.” Remember when Philip caught up with the Ethiopian eunuch, and he found the eunuch reading from Isaiah 53? The text tells us that Philip began at that same Scripture and preached Jesus to him (Acts 8:35). In other words Philip started right where the eunuch was, and he preached Jesus to him. Likewise, preaching on the birth of Jesus on December 25 is merely taking advantage of meeting people right where they are and taking them where they need to be.
- It’s an opportunity to re-purpose a cultural event. When Paul was standing on Areopagus, the hub of idolatry, he preached a powerfully, convicting sermon. But do you know how he developed that sermon? He “re-purposed” one of their pagan idols and used it to point them to the resurrected Lord. In that same vein, I can “re-purpose” our cultural “Christmas narrative” and use it to point people to Jesus, the crucified Lord.
By preaching on the birth of Jesus on December 25, I, in no way, intend to perpetuate myths about the birth of Jesus or celebrate a man-made religious memorial. Not at all! What I intend to do is meet people where they are (like Philip did), re-purpose a cultural event (like Paul did), and point people to Jesus; not just the cute baby Jesus in the manger, but the grown-up, crucified Jesus who makes demands on our lives.