As I walked through the crowded mall in search of some last minute gifts, I could hear the faint but recognizable words to my favorite Christmas carol: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.” At that moment, I turned to my five-year-old daughter Julianna and asked, “What is the real reason for the season?”
Without missing a beat, she said, “Jesus!”
She was right. It’s not about bright lights, or decorated trees, or finding the perfect gift. It’s about Jesus. But what is it about Jesus? How exactly is Jesus the reason for Christmas? The answer to this question lies in the reasons why Jesus came to this world.
Rather than tell you why I think Jesus came, I’m just going to let Jesus speak for Himself. Moreover, these words are right off the lips of Jesus.
Contrary to popular belief, Jesus didn’t come to restore social justice or world peace. He didn’t come merely to heal the sick or clothe the naked. He didn’t even come simply to give us a good example for how to live morally upright lives.
He came for a different purpose.
So, why did Jesus come? I want to give you three reasons why Jesus was born in Bethlehem around 2000 years ago.
Jesus Came to Give His Life as a Ransom for Many
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
This passage cuts to the heart of why Jesus had to come. He came to give His very life to save ours. He was born into the world so that He could die for the world. Paul says it this way, “But when the fullness of time had come [that’s Christmas], God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4–5).
Jesus redeems us. He pays our debt. But how does Jesus redeem us? He pays with His life. Our text says that Jesus came—that’s Christmas—to give His life as a ransom—that’s Easter. The payment demanded was His sinless life. And that ransom price was impossible for you and me to pay.
Jesus Came to Call Sinners to Repentance
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 5:31–32)
We have a hard time thinking about our sin—our disobedience against a blazingly just and holy God—so Jesus uses an image we all understand. He talks about physical sickness. Specifically, He compares the sinner to the person who is physical ill and in need of a doctor.
We all know that sickness, like cancer, doesn’t just go away if we ignore it. If you have a treatable, yet lethal, form of cancer, and you don’t see a doctor for the cure, you will die. The doctor can only save you if you go to him.
In the same way, we are all sinners in desperate need of salvation, which only comes through repentance and faith in Jesus. Apart from Jesus, we will die in our sins (John 8:24). Only Jesus has the solution—the cure—to our sin problem.
Now that might sound very narrow. And that’s because it is narrow. But the truth is always narrow. My math students knew this very well. I used to be a full-time high school math and science teacher. If I were to ask my students for the cube root of 27, I would expect a very specific answer. Even though there are an infinite number of possible answers, only one is true. The true answer is 3. All other numerical answers (e.g. 4, 5, 6, 7) are false.
Jesus is the true solution to our sin problem. In fact, Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Speaking about Jesus, Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Let me anticipate another possible objection. Someone might be thinking, “Well, Tim, maybe I’m like that healthy person who doesn’t need a doctor. I’m the righteous person who doesn’t need saving.” The problem with this belief is that it contradicts both Scripture and experience. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). How many is all? It’s all.
But we also know this to be true apart from the Bible. We can’t even live up to our own standard of morality much less the standard of a perfectly holy God.
Remember the ransom has been paid. God has taken the first step. Now Jesus is calling sinners to respond to that act of grace. Jesus is inviting all people to turn to Him and put their trust in Him.
Jesus Came to Give Eternal Life
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Now this is the greatest Christmas gift one can receive—the gift of eternal life. Jesus came to give eternal life to whoever believes in Jesus. Eternal life doesn’t come automatically. You don’t get eternal life like you get hair. It only comes once you put your trust in Jesus. You have to believe in Him.
It’s natural to ask, what happens if I choose not to believe in him? Jesus doesn’t leave us hanging, He says, “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18).
What does Jesus mean by condemned already? The bad news is that we are all sinners and the wages of sin is death. God is an absolutely holy and just Being. He cannot allow sins to go unpunished. In fact, it would be unjust for God to allow sinners off scot-free.
There are two options: Either you can pay for your sins yourself or you can trust in Jesus’ death for the payment of your sins. Reject God’s offer of salvation and you will endure eternal punishment. Accept God’s offer, and you will have eternal life (Matt. 25:46). It’s your choice. But, please know, there is no third option.
So why did Jesus come? Jesus tells us. He came to give His life as a ransom for sinners. He came to call those sinners to repentance. And Jesus came to give eternal life to anyone who would believe in Him.
This Christmas season, meditate on these precious theological truths. Allow the purpose of His coming to fill your heart with inexpressible and glorious joy. Joy to the world. The Lord is come.