“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” – A Charlie Brown Christmas
As a little boy growing up, and still to this day as a husband and father of four, of all the television specials that have aired during the Christmas season, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is my favorite. When I was a boy, my mom and I would search the TV Guide (younger readers may be surprised to learn that one actually had to consult a magazine or newspaper to see what would be on TV) to see when the Christmas special would air so we would not miss it. Today, we just pop in the DVD and watch it anytime we want . . . frequently during the Christmas Season.
Even when this program first aired in 1965, our culture was consumed by materialism, even during the Christmas season, causing Charlie Brown to be deeply concerned that the Christmas season had been separated from the Christmas “Reason.” From his sister Sally’s letter to Santa (requesting “tens and twenties” if her Christmas wish list was too complicated) to Snoopy entering his garishly decorated dog house in a Christmas decorating contest, commercialism was edging the Christ out of Christmas. Charlie Brown’s disillusionment hit rock bottom when Lucy and the cast of the Christmas play sent Charlie Brown out to get “the biggest and shiniest aluminum Christmas tree you can get” as the centerpiece for their presentation.
The segment of the show that always caught my attention — and this was decades before I became a Christian — was when Linus responded to Charlie Brown’s despairing question: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus’ words were taken directly from the King James Version of sacred Scripture:
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:8-14 KJV).
And with that being said, Linus picked up his blanket and shuffled off the stage, stopping by his friend to say, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Linus said it all! That is what Christmas is all about: the Christ Child, the only true Reason for the Season, the greatest gift the world has ever been given. And this precious gift is available to all those who will but place their trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Early on in my Christian walk, I was instructed to personalize the Scriptures. Here is how you apply this instruction to John 3:16. When you come to the word “world,” insert your name: “For God so loved . . . you!” Think about it this way. God so loved you that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to die for your sins so that He could have an intimate, personal, and loving relationship with you for all eternity. That’s right, with YOU!
Jesus was like no other child ever born into this world. He was supernaturally conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary, as Isaiah 7:14 promised: “The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” This would be “the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes” that Linus spoke of—a babe that was God clothed in human flesh.
Jesus, that little baby in the manger, was born to die. That manger, which is so much a symbol of Christmas, always stood in the shadow of the cross, where God’s justice would be fully satisfied by God’s only Son.
Throughout the month of December, I pray that you and yours will listen to Linus and have a very merry, Christ-centered, hope-filled Christmas season. Perhaps you will take some time to share this glorious gift of hope with someone who does not yet know the real reason for this Christmas season. You will not be sharing a cleverly invented story, like the ones created by Dickens or Dr. Seuss, as charming as they are; you will be declaring the irrefutable truth of the Good News of the birth of Christ, the one that Linus initially shared with an estimated 15 million families on that night in 1965, and to hundreds of millions more in all the years since.
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” That’s what Christmas is all about: that God so loved you.
From the Boland family to yours: We wish you a very merry, Christ-filled Christmas!
Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach. He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.