Esther 9:20–23 (NKJV)
20 And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, 21 to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, 22 as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor. 23 So the Jews accepted the custom which they had begun, as Mordecai had written to them,
So why celebrate Christmas? The rationale is supplied by the passage before us in the book of Esther. About 2500 years ago God in His kindness delivered our fathers from the plotting of a wicked man named Haman. Though Haman was determined to slaughter our people – man, woman, and child – God rescued them from his schemes. God worked a marvelous deliverance – these were the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies… the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday. No more fear only delight and thanksgiving.
So what did our fathers and mothers do? They celebrated, of course – they feasted, thanked God, rejoiced in God’s goodness, shared presents with one another, and gave gifts to those in need even as they had been in need. Listen to the text again: Mordecai formalized the feast of Purim that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor.
And so let us argue from the lesser to the greater: if our fathers and mothers celebrated their deliverance from the plottings of wicked Haman, ought not we celebrate the birth of Christ who through His mercy has delivered us from the plottings of Satan himself? Jesus took on human flesh and was born in order that he might fight against the Evil One and deliver us from Satan’s evil intent to destroy us and ensnare us in wickedness and deceit; his evil intent to hang us from his gibbet. The birth of Christ is the arrival of our Deliverer.
So what ought we to do? Why celebrate, of course! We ought to feast, thank God, rejoice in God’s goodness, share presents with one another, and give gifts to those in need even as we all were in need. Had not Christ come to rescue and deliver us, we all would have perished miserably in our sins. We all would have continued in rebellion against God, hateful and hating one another. We would have continued to despise the Lord Most High, to disregard His law, to endure the burden of our sins and the shameful, degrading lusts that once dominated our lives. But now…but now, we are free! Free from sin! Free from the fear of death! Free to delight in God and obey His laws! Free to love and be loved! Free to rejoice! So ought not we to celebrate?
Yet how often we take God’s gift of life through His Son Jesus for granted! And this is why we need reminders, why God in His kindness has given us the Lord’s Supper and why our fathers in their joy gave us the gift of Christmas – that we might ever have Christ before us and rejoice in His goodness toward us. And so reminded of our call to celebrate, rejoice, give thanks, and share, let us kneel and confess that we are often ungrateful.