As I mentioned in the previous post, my journey into understanding Christmas more fully was a part of a larger quest that began in the Spring of 2008, upon my return from Israel. While in Israel, I felt a strong prompting from the Spirit of God to shed 2,000 years of Church history and understand my Savior, Jesus, as He was in the context of the land, culture and history of 1st Century Israel. Even now as I write this, I have a painting behind me that was made from a photo taken of me while I was in Israel. It was the critical moment of the trip. I sat in the Garden of Gethsemane and read Matthew 26. At that moment I was flooded with God’s presence, and I realized that the very core of our Faith was demonstrated in that very garden: the Father loved me so much that he ignored the pleas of His only Son in order to redeem me. Stop, for just a moment, and think about that statement.
That’s the heart of the matter, isn’t it? Love. The New Testament Scriptures make this point over and over again. The Father’s love for us is what drives everything He does. So before we even begin the process of debating whether or not the origins of Christmas are pagan, let’s agree that the Father’s love is central to the argument. He literally moved Heaven and Earth time and time again because of that love. Everything He does is motivated by His passionate desire to reveal Himself and His Salvation, Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew means “YHWH’s salvation”) to mankind.