“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5:24)

The movie is called The Polar Express. The setting is a snow covered Christmas Eve in an unnamed place with a boy who is never named anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus. It appears that he is an unbeliever, although he and his sister have followed traditional Christmas etiquette just in case the jolly fellow does stop by. You know the routine, cookies and milk, going to bed early, and actually falling asleep. Santa just will not stop if you are awake!

Nevertheless, on this particular Christmas the Polar Express, that enchanted train traveling to Santa’s hideout, makes a scheduled stop at our hero’s house. Although it would appear that some of the other passengers on the train are in fact “believers,” they too are dealing with their own issues that have them doubting what they profess to believe. Our hero, who wants so much to believe, halfheartedly boards the train in order to travel to the place where he hopes to find full assurance of Santa’s existence or non-existence.

As the train gets underway four tickets are methodically punched by the conductor. A little know-it-all boy and a girl get tickets starting with the letters “L E.” A little boy, from the other side of the tracks, gets a ticket starting with the letters “D E,” and our hero gets a ticket with the letters “B _ _ _ _ _ E.” 

The questions they each had at the beginning of the trip are all answered by journey’s end. Re-boarding for the trip home, all the gaps in the tickets are filled in revealing the true purpose for their presence on the trip—to LEARN, to DEPEND, to LEAD, and to BELIEVE

While the “Christ” in Christmas came to redeem us all, the gift that is available to all begins with “Saving Faith.” Saving Faith involves three elements — Knowledge of who Christ is; Acceptance of His person and work; and finally, Trust in Christ alone to save us. It goes a lot deeper than just knowing the name “Jesus” or “Christ” to having a full assurance that who He is (“the Son of God”) and what He did (“died on the cross and rose from the dead”) enables each of us  “to be saved” by trusting in Christ alone.

Once leaving the station called “Believe,” we continue to “Learn” from our mistakes, and learn to “Depend,” rely, and count on Him and other believers for strength and encouragement in this life’s journey. We are then commissioned (Matt. 28:19) to “Lead” others to Him through our example and verbal witness.

The train conductor ends by saying, “It doesn’t matter where the train is going, it’s deciding to get on.” God says, it does matter where the train, your life, is headed and this season celebrates the gift that He sent over two thousand years ago. HE paid the full cost of our journey to be in relationship with HIM today, and forevermore.

Jesus Christ—“the first gift of Christmas!”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16–17)