What is the heart of Christmas? Is it the children, helping the less fortunate or being with family? Also, what is the significance of the baby Jesus in a manger that we observe in holiday plays and hear about in Christmas carols? Is it just a nice seasonal story, or does it mean something?

Words like the incarnation, virgin birth and immaculate conception do not show up in most Christmas cards, but these words contain the heart of the season. World history uses them to describe only one person -- the birth of Jesus.

The scriptures declare Jesus existed in heaven from eternity as God the Son. Then one day, through a carefully crafted plan, God the Father sent His willing Son from heaven to earth. He took the form of a seed that was implanted by His holy spirit into a specially chosen young woman -- Mary. She was pure, having never lain with a man. The news of her approaching pregnancy did not come from a doctor, but an angel. He said, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son" (Luke 1:30-31). Soon, she conceived by the hand of God, and months later, a host of angels announced the birth of this miracle baby to a lost world.

This extraordinary historical account has its share of skeptics. Some argue it is biologically impossible. Others doubt, calling it a myth equal to the stories of Greek mythology. God's miracles have their critics because they cannot be explained in a classroom, under a microscope or on a calculator. If they could, they would not be miracles.

Why was this virgin birth necessary? First, for the forgiveness of our sins. We carry the weight of our guilt and shame every day. It is a heavy load. Yet, only one man is the vessel by which forgiveness can come -- Jesus. His deity from conception made it possible.

Second, in order to show us the way. Jesus could have descended from heaven and bypassed a birth. Instead, He chose to enter our world as a baby becoming one of us. He took on our weaknesses and was subjected to our temptations. Then through His eventual death and resurrection, He showed us we can overcome through trust in Him. He became our way to victory.

The heart of Christmas is Jesus. His miraculous virgin birth is our triumph. May Jesus be your hope for today during this Christmas season.

Clint Decker is president and evangelist with Great

Awakenings Inc.

cdecker@great

awakenings.org