At this time of year churches are focused on the angels, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, and most importantly baby Jesus. As we teach the children in our churches about the story of Jesus’ birth we cannot forget to teach them the “why” of Christmas. Jesus did not just come to earth in the form of a baby to stay a baby; He came as our Savior and our redeemer.
The precious baby in the manger was the one who would grow to live a perfect life that we could not live, to suffer the punishment for our sins on the cross, and to be raised to life again seated at the right hand of God the Father. As we teach our children about Christmas we must also point them to the cross of Easter. We cannot leave baby Jesus in the manger, but must look ahead to the glorious work of Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection. Embedded in the lessons we teach about Christ’s birth should be the gospel message of why Jesus came to earth. Our hope is not found in Jesus as a baby, but in the reason He came.
Scripture reminds us of who Jesus is, not just a baby, but God incarnate:
“but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” (Hebrews 1:2-4)
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Jesus came to earth with a great purpose and we must not neglect or make light of that purpose as we teach the children in our churches about His birth. The season of Christmas can be a time full of opportunity to engage children in discussion about the gospel, the deity of Christ and the humanity of Christ. The Christmas story can point them to both the majestic attributes of Christ and his humble servant hood. Teaching on the birth of Christ can help children reflect upon their own humanity and sinfulness for Jesus chose to come to earth because of our sin.
I encourage you this Christmas season to not simply teach the basics of the Christmas story, but purpose to dig deep under the surface to help the children understand the beautiful truths of why Jesus came. Use the story of Jesus’ birth to point them toward the cross. Christmas begins the gospel story, but don’t forget to also direct your children to the end.