God planned Christmas, the birth of Jesus, before the foundation of the world, before creation. What was His reason, you might ask? He knew how the devil would interfere with His creation and intentions for man, thus causing a separation between Him and man.

He could have prevented the interruption but didn't, because He wanted man to love, trust, and obey Him willingly: by choice. He therefore put a plan into place that would defeat the devil, give fallen man a second chance, and thereby restore His broken relationship with man.

The first Christmas was only the beginning, the first in a series of events constituting God's redemptive plan. In the first step, Christmas, God became man, in the person of His Son Jesus Christ, born of a virgin. He lived a sinless life among sinners, showing them the way back to God--through grace, for He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NLT).

The next event was His death. He willingly laid down His life, suffered at the hands of sinners, who crucified Him. He told His disciples, “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily” (John 10:17 NLT).  They buried Him, sealing the tomb with a huge rock to ensure His disciples wouldn’t be able to move Him out. The devil who motivated them must have thought he had won this fight, but God had a surprise for him!

Third was His resurrection from the dead. The morning of the third day, there was an earthquake, an angel rolled the stone aside and sat on it. The angel comforted the women who had gone to embalm the body. “Don't be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He isn't here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen” (Matthew 28:5 NLT). Jesus came back to life, delivering a crushing blow to the devil once and for all. Jesus will never die again. Death and the devil were both defeated. That death paid for the sins of all who'd repent, ask for forgiveness, and accept the sacrifice made on their behalf. Because He rose from the dead, those who believe in Him shall also rise someday.

Fourth, He ascended into heaven as His disciples watched with broken hearts. Angels assured them, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” (Acts 1:11 NLT).

The final event will be Jesus’ Second Advent. This time, He’ll come not as a baby, but as the King of kings and Lord of lords, and He will set up His kingdom. At His coming, every eye shall see Him (see Revelation 1:7), but it'll be too late for those who have not called on Him for salvation. Judgment and punishment will be all that await them,

As you celebrate Christmas this year, don’t just go through the motions. Understand that God loves you very much, and longs to enter into a personal relationship with you. How do you plan to respond to the One who has gone to such trouble to demonstrate His love for you? He has freed you to love and serve Him willingly. The window of opportunity is limited; it'll close for each person when they die, or when Jesus returns. Nobody knows when either one is going to happen (see Matthew 25:13). I encourage you to call on Him today. As the Bible says, “Today when you hear his voice don’t harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3:7 NLT). The Bible also asks, “What makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus Himself?” (Hebrews 2:3 NLT). The answer to this question is obvious—no one can escape punishment if he or she chooses to not respond to God’s love.  Decide today!