The meaning of Christmas

How do you sum up Christmas – Presents? Family? A baby? Turkey? Father Christmas?... 

We often go to the passages in Matthew or Luke to read about the Christmas story. However, the passage in John 1:1-4 although not recounting the events of Jesus’ birth gives us a wonderfully concise explanation of what the nativity means.  

‘That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete’ 1 John1:1-4 

Christmas means salvation by grace – Jesus here is called ‘the Word of life’ (v1) and ‘eternal life..was with the Father and has appeared to us’ (v2)This is a startling statement and the point is clear. We are not merely being told that Jesus Christ has eternal life or even that he gives it. The verse says he is eternal life, salvation itself. In every other religion the founder points to eternal life, but because Jesus is God come in the flesh, he is eternal life. To know Jesus is to have eternal life. 

Christmas really happened – If we are saved by grace, not by what we do then it is essential that the events of the gospels e.g. Incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus actually occurred in time and space. John here is emphatic ‘We have seen it and testify to it’ and then speaks of hearing, seeing and touching. This is court language – Christmas really happened! 

Christmas means you can have fellowship with God  John wants his readers to know that they can have fellowship with the Father and Son (v3). Christians can enter into the same personal communion with God that the apostles and others had because they saw and knew Jesus personally. Christmas means that God is not content to be known at a distance – He wants to know us personally. 

Christmas means joy  the angels came to the shepherds with ‘glad tidings of great joy’. Here in v4 John is saying ‘My joy will not be complete until you have the same joy in fellowship with God that we do’ – Christmas brings the assurance of God’s love and joy! A fountain of joy that will always reinvigorate you no matter the circumstances of your life. 


Written by Mark Waterfield – Pastor at Hope Church Newham