How much did you spend for Christmas this year?
In 2022, on average, an individual in the United States dished out over $800 for Christmas gifts. If you included costs for extra food, decorations and travel, the cost of a typical person’s Christmas exceeded $1,100. Approximately 38% carried over credit card debt for Christmas well into the 2023 calendar year. When November 2023 rolled around, 25% were still paying interest on the previous year’s Christmas spending.
But what was the cost of the very first Christmas?
Answering that question requires grasping the reason for the incarnation: God becoming a man in the form of a baby in Bethlehem. Put simply, Jesus was born for the primary purpose of dying.
A holy God’s sense of justice required a death penalty for sin: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Yet God’s extravagant love for His creatures resulted in a redemptive plan. Over three decades after that first Christmas, Jesus died on a cross: a perfect, unblemished-by-the-world sacrifice. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). His death paid the required penalty for the sins of whoever acknowledge their sin and put their trust in Him. “For our sake He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). When we put our faith in Christ, God the Father credits us with His Son’s righteousness. There’s no longer any enmity between us and Him. “We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10).
If you’re a Christian, it’s because you were bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20).
What was the price of that first Christmas?
A man who witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion as well as His resurrection gave the answer: “We were ransomed…not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Precious blood that oozed from Christ’s back every time a whip tore into His skin. Precious blood that trickled down his forehead and temple due to the crown of thorns whammed onto His head. Precious blood splattered all over the cross beams when nails ripped through His wrists and heels. Precious blood that covered not only the cross, but our sins as well.
That’s what God the Father sees when He looks at me: not my sins, just the color red. The cost of the first Christmas was the cross.
No, that first Christmas didn’t cost you and me anything, but it cost Christ plenty. But that’s the price He paid in order to enjoy a relationship with us someday. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
No wonder red is the dominant color at Christmas!