John's Christmas Letter

The Advent Season is a time to celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ while anticipating, with great expectation, the day when He will come again. But to truly capture the meaning of all of this—His birth in Bethlehem, the manger, the shepherds, the incarnation, the Word becoming flesh—we should ask the question, “Why?”

  • Why did Jesus come?
  • What was the purpose?
  • Was there more than one purpose?
  • Why did the angels tell the shepherds that the Advent, the coming, of Jesus is Good News of Great Joy for All People?

As we enjoy Family Devotions this Advent Season, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas, are we leading our families to understand the “Why” behind the manger? Do our families understand the weight of it all? Are we shepherding them so their eyes are open to the beautiful purpose of God sending His Son?

Throughout the Bible, we find dozens of answers to this question. Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) and Jesus came to serve (Mark 10:45). These are a few examples from the Gospels, but if we turn to John’s first letter, we find at least six more reasons in just a few chapters.

It seems John enjoys celebrating the Advent of Jesus Christ and the purposes for which He came. For this reason, we can call it John’s Christmas Letter.

Jesus Came to Take Away Sins (1 John 3:5)

The first Advent purpose revealed in this Christmas letter simply reads, “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.” This is the Good News. This is the Gospel. This is the news of forgiveness that sinful man needs; the news of deliverance and freedom and restoration; the news of peace with God. We no longer have to live enslaved to sin, separated from God, plagued by the hopeless consequences of sin: fear, guilt, shame, and death. When we see the manger, we see the cross, for Jesus came to take away that which we could never get rid of.

Jesus Came to Destroy the Works of the Devil (1 John 3:8)

A few verses later, John writes, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” This is the fulfillment of the first Good News, the first proclamation of the Gospel, the first promise of one who would come to crush Satan (Genesis 3:15). And now He’s come, and victory belongs to Christ.

Jesus Came so that We Might Live Through Him (1 John 4:9)

“God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” We celebrate the new life of the baby in the manger because He came that we might have new life. His life is what gives us hope of life. Outside of Christ, we are dead in our sin, in need, not of self-improvement or behavior modification, but of life. Christ came so that those who repent of their sin and put their faith in Christ might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).

Jesus Came to be the Propitiation for our Sins (1 John 4:10)

Jesus not only atones for our sin, taking away that which we could never get rid of, He also appeases the wrath of God. He receives God’s wrath for our sin and we receive His righteousness. Paul writes, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). And so John’s Christmas Letter includes the overwhelming promise, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Jesus Came to be the Savior of the World (1 John 4:14)

John teaches, “The Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.” Why did the Father send His Son? What was His mission? His purpose? To Save the world. He will save the world from their sins; not just one nation, not just one generation, not just one people group speaking one language…He will save people of all nations, all generations, all people groups, speaking all languages. He is the Savior of the world…THE Savior, for there is no other. No one else can save (Acts 4:12). Only Jesus is the hope of the nations (Matthew 12:21).

Jesus Came that we may Know Him Who is True (1 John 5:20)

John’s Christmas Letter ends with one more statement about the Advent of Jesus, as John writes that the Son of God has indeed come and then reminds his readers of the blessing that has come with Him: “understanding so that we may know Him who is true.” When we see the shepherds kneeling at the manger that first Christmas, we see the Son of God in flesh, dwelling among men (shepherds, fishermen, teachers, mothers, daughters), so that we may come to know God…the one who is true.

To celebrate Christmas, therefore, and not deepen our knowledge of God and our intimacy with Him, to celebrate and miss the truth, to celebrate and forget to delight in the presence of the one, true God, well, is to miss the point of the Advent Season altogether.

Jesus came to deliver, save, intercede, and to give us a relationship with the one who made us. John loved talking about these things, writing letters about all of this.

And now it’s our turn, to pass this letter onto our families this Christmas

Jonathan Williams

Jonathan Williams is the founder of Gospel Family Ministries. He is also the author of Gospel Family. Jonathan enjoys this ministry alongside his wife, Jessica, and their three children, Gracie, Silas & Elijah. With a heart for families and the church, Jonathan also serves as the pastor of Wilcrest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.