There is a huge difference between liking Christmas time and knowing the purpose for Christmas. Of course, most people on the street would understand that Christmas is more than a commercial blockbuster for American stores.
Many would go even further and decry the over-busy nature of this time of year, and how it has so drifted into Santa and candy canes with no deeper religious meaning at all. But, if asked about the positive nature of this time of year, they would limit their ideas to family, kindness, and warmth. But the real message of Christmas goes much, much deeper than that. The true meaning of Christmas is revealed in the name Jesus. Listen to the angel’s command to Joseph to give Jesus this name:
"Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:20-21).'"
Why name Jesus "Jesus?" It literally means, Jehovah is salvation or simply, God saves. Why name Him that? What must we be saved from? Name Him Jesus because – “He will save His people from their sins.” God wants Jesus to take the penalty for our sin.
Sin is lawbreaking. Very early in life we learn about lawbreaking. Every classroom setting and most games – even pickup games at recess have rules. These ground-rules must be followed to play the right way. God has rules too. He has written these rules clearly in Scripture. In addition, many are written on our conscience. We know when we have done wrong. And we all admit that we have broken God’s rules.
The Bible states that there is a penalty for breaking God’s rules. That penalty is death. "The wages sin is death. (Romans 6:23)” What we get for our law breaking is death – separation from God.
Jesus came to earth to take that penalty. God Himself has come as the Son of God. He humbled Himself by taking human flesh. And he died in our place on the cross. Therefore, death does not need to come to us in an eternal sense. We can have eternal life - that is the purpose of Jesus coming. To make a way for us to come back to God by paying the penalty of our law breaking.
And so His name is Jesus; namely, the purpose of His coming. What is the result of His coming? That is revealed in what He will be called. Matthew continues the story and tells us what will be the result of His coming.
"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 'Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel' (which means, God with us) (Matthew 1:22-23)."
Because He came and paid the penalty for our rule breaking, we can walk with God. We don’t have to be eternally separated from God. We can enjoy eternal life with God. God, Who will not dwell with sin, can live with us because He has come to us. Jesus has paid for our sins. These names of Christmas have great significance. They tell us the true meaning of Christmas! "Jesus" – Jehovah saved us from our sins. So we can have "Emmanuel" – God can be with us.