Christmas is a time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. But why did the Son of God become a human and live on this earth? Why is his birth worth celebrating?
Jesus himself tells us that one of the reasons he came into the world was to call sinners to repentance.
In the book of Luke, we read of an incident in Christ’s life when he called Levi, the tax collector, to be his disciple: “After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”” (Luke 5:27-32).
Jesus is in trouble with the religious leaders for eating in the home of people that they consider to be notorious sinners. Yet Jesus is happy to eat with evildoers. Why? Because he came to help sinners, not those who are assured of their own righteousness.
Just as a doctor comes to help those who are sick, Jesus was born to help those sick with sin. Jesus knows that unless they are cured of their sin, they will be judged eternally for it.
So what does Jesus call sinners to do? When Jesus was questioned, he said that he came to call sinners to repentance. Thus, repentance is Christ’s cure for sin.
But what is repentance? Repentance is a change of one’s mind. The repentant person changes their mind about sin and grieves over it instead of enjoying it. The prophet Jeremiah described repentance in this way: “After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth” (Jeremiah 31:19).
And the repentant person is not only sorry for their sins but turns away from them to do right. The prophet Ezekiel calls people to repent with the following words: “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!” (Ezekiel 14:6). You can’t be repentant of your sins and continue in them. You must turn away from them.
But why would Jesus be born in order to call sinners to repentance? How does repentance help with sin?
The apostle Peter points out that repentance before God brings forgiveness of sins through Jesus. He said about Jesus: “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel” (Acts 5:31). Which means that you can inherit eternal life through Christ if you simply come to him in repentance.
So, do you love to celebrate Christmas? Is it because you know that through Christ’s coming and calling you to repentance, you have experienced the forgiveness of sins? Joel Radford