I love listening to Hank Hanegraff, also known as “The Bible Answer Man.” Do you listen to him? He knows it all. I am ashamed of my lack of biblical knowledge most of the time. Hank teaches me something each time I listen.
A couple of years back, I bought Hank’s book “The Heart of Christmas.” It’s a devotional book designed to be read during December. He unpacks so many cool things about Christmas. I highly recommend it to you. He uses the letters in Christmas to explain so much about the holiday itself. I hope you won’t mind if I share a little of what I’ve read. I won’t give too much away because I want you to buy the book and I don’t want to get on Hank’s bad side.
You hear it all the time: “Let’s keep Christ in Christmas.” Yes, let’s. People mistakenly say they don’t like the abbreviation of “xmas” because it takes Christ out of Christmas. In actuality, the “x” represents the Greek letter “chi.” The word “chi” is a shorthand version of the Greek word for Christ. So, there you go.
But what does the word “Christ” really mean? For years, I thought it was just another name for Jesus. It was part of his name. But really, the word Christ comes from the Hebrew word meaning Messiah or “anointed one.” And indeed he was. How about that?
I know some folks who don’t read much of the Old Testament. I’m one of them. Did you know the birth of Christ is foretold in the Old Testament and mentioned hundreds of times? Yep. You can read about the birth many times in verses like those from Isaiah, Zechariah, and Daniel. When you think about the whole prophecy thing and how many years it was before Jesus was born, it’s pretty amazing. All those many years before, the coming of the Messiah was being talked about.
You may have also heard Christmas began as a pagan festival long ago. On the contrary; early Christians chose Dec. 25 to compete against the pagan festival that was also going on at the same time. It was their holy day, a day to remember Jesus was the Son of God. Now, all these years later, we still celebrate. I don’t hear about too many people honoring the winter solstice or worshiping Greco-Roman gods anymore. Do you?
The book also talks about Jesus’ family genealogy; their history. You may have read some genealogies in the Bible, struggling through many generations of names hard to pronounce. Matthew and Luke both write about Jesus’ lineage. We learn about Jesus’ link to King David and even trace him all the back to Adam. Pretty interesting. What does it tell us? Simply that Jesus was a real person. He was God, but was also a man.
We used to sing a song at church called “The Perfect Tree.” It’s a song for the Christmas holiday, but it also talks about Jesus’ resurrection. I think most of us associate the Resurrection with the Easter holiday. But indeed, as Hanegraff writes in his book, we can’t really discuss Christmas without talking about the Resurrection. Jesus’ birth was and is important. He came to save us, and he did so by dying for us.
I don’t know about you, but I grow tired of many things about the Christmas holiday. I feel a little grumpy, much like Scrooge with a lot of it. It’s my opinion we could all use a refresher course on what it all means. I hope you won’t find me too preachy, but I thought all this stuff was just too good not to share with you.
Oh, and one more thing; when you sing those old Christmas tunes, I hope what we’ve talked about today will make you pay attention a little more to the lyrics. “Joy to the World,” “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus,” “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” and “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen” are some of the tunes I took a second look at.
So, there you go. Christ, some history, and the Resurrection. You have the first three letters.