Greg Laurie — Why Is Red the Color of Christmas?
Why is red the color of Christmas? Well let's go back to the first passage in the Bible about Christmas. It's not what you might think. It's not Isaiah 9:6, "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given". It is not the verse that tells us that a virgin will conceive and bring forth a Son and call his name Emmanuel. The first Christmas verse in the Bible is in the first book of the Bible. The book of Genesis. It was after God's judgment came upon Lucifer and the Lord said to satan, "He will bruise your head, but you will bruise his heel". That is the first passage in the Bible that speaks of the coming Messiah of Israel. The Savior of the world.
So why is that the first Christmas passage? Because basically the battle lines were being drawn. You see God was saying to the devil listen. There is coming one who is going to crush your head. But you are going to crush his heel. In other words, the devil knew that God was sending a redeemer. A Savior. That is where the story really begins. As we go to the next book of the Bible. The book of Exodus. We have the story of the Pharaoh wanting to eradicate the Jewish baby boys that were being born. And so he gave an order that any Jewish baby boy born was to be put to death. What was going on? What was happening was the devil was trying to stop the arrival of the Messiah. He was aware of the fact that Jesus going to come through Israel. So clear back in the second book of the Bible he was trying to stop Jesus from coming. And there were baby boys that were put to death reminding us that red is the color of Christmas.
Another chapter in the Christmas story might be more familiar to you. It is the story of the wise men coming to king Herod from the east. Remember we call them the magi. The Bible doesn't say there were three of them by the way. There may have been nine of them. I hope that doesn't mess up our nativity set. But what the Bible does tell us is there were wise men that came from the east bringing three gifts. We don't have their names given to us in scripture though we have them in popular culture. These men studied the stars. They were both astronomers and astrologers. And interestingly God came to them on their level if you will in a way that they would understand through a star that led them to the birthplace of Christ. Imagine the commotion in the city when here are these foreign dignataries coming into town no doubt with a large entourage and someone tells king Herod about them. They had some time together and they say to king Herod we are here to see the king of the Jews.
There is not a worse thing you could have said to a guy like Herod because this was a paranoid tyrant. This was a guy who killed people without thinking twice about it. He had members of his own family put to death because he perceived them as a threat to his throne. In fact the Bible says when Herod heard these words he was shaking and all Jerusalem with him, which means when Herod was unhappy everybody was unhappy. But they were coming to find the Messiah. Herod hearing there was a potential threat to his throne gave the order that all of the baby boys in Bethlehem should be put to death because it was foretold, "Out of you Bethlehem shall come forth one whose origins have been from everlasting". Again it is satan's attempt to stop the arrival of the Messiah with the tragic death of those baby boys in Bethlehem. Reminding us that red is the color of Christmas.
Well there is one more chapter in our Christmas story. Coming back to those wise men. Have you ever thought about those gifts that they brought to Jesus? Gold, frankincense and myrrh. What kind of gifts are those to give to a little child who has been born. But I think that those wise men had real insight as to who this baby king was and what he had come to do. Gold because he was a king. Frankincense. Incense used by the high priest in the temple because he would be our high priest. Our representative to God. But the most telling gift of all was myrrh. Myrrh is an embalming element. That would be like giving the gift of formaldehyde to someone. I mean that might be a bit of a morbid gift. Maybe appropriate for someone who is a member of the Addams family. But I don't know about a little baby. But no. It was insightful as well because you see Jesus the king who would be our high priest had come to die.
Why is red the color of Christmas? Because this beautiful baby born in the manger at Bethlehem came with a mission. And the mission was to go to a cross and die for the sin of the world and shed his blood. At Christmas we decorate our trees with festive lights and ornaments. But the Christmas tree in the Christmas story is a cruel instrument that was used to bring about the death of Jesus. The Bible says, "Cursed is every man that hangs on a tree". Jesus hung on that tree. He died on the cross for us. He was born to die that we might live. In Isaiah 1:18 God says, "'come now, and let us reason together,' says the Lord, 'though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them as white as wool. Though they be red as crimson, I will make them white like snow.'"
Red the color of Christmas. Not because Santa wore red or because we wrap our presents in red paper or we put out red bulbs and lights. Red is the color of Christmas because that is the color of the blood that flowed from the body of Jesus as he died for the sin of the world making available to you the greatest gift you could ever receive. No batteries needed. No warranty needed. The only gift that keeps on giving. The gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. With all of the busyness of the season I hope that you will remember what it is really all about. C. S. Lewis put it best. "The Son of God became a man that men might become sons of God". Jesus was born. He lived. He died. He rose again from the dead. So you could come into a relationship with God receiving the gift of eternal life and live a life with meaning and purpose and then spend all eternity with him. That is the real message of Christmas. Merry Christmas.