Christmas Lessons from Charlie Brown


charlie1Today is December 2nd. December is one of my favorite months. In the month of December our family celebrates three birthdays, one wedding anniversary, and two deaths. It’s a time that we as a family celebrate and experience Psalm 133. It’s a time that is marked by traditions. Growing up and to this day, one of my favorite parts of December is “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (and I love the soundtrack!).

There are three lessons we need to take away this Christmas season from this short film.


1. Enjoy the Traditions but Avoid Commercialism

In “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Charlie Brown is searching for the true meaning of Christmas:

Lucy: You need involvement. You need to get involved in some real Christmas project…Incidentally, I know how you feel about all this Christmas business, getting depressed and all that. It happens to me every year. I never get what I really want..

Charlie Brown: What’s this? ‘Find the true meaning of Christmas. Win money, money, money…’… My own dog gone commercial, I can’t stand it.

Throughout the film we see commercialism (and that was almost 50 years ago) which climaxes in Snoopy winning first prize for his decorations and the whole Peanut gang decorating Charlie Brown’s tree and singing “Hark, the Harold Angels Sing.” We need to realize that we can enjoy the traditions, the decorations, the Christmas movies, and the presents. As Kevin DeYoung stated in his blog:

“As Christians, we have more to celebrate than anyone. We don’t need to lock up Donner and Blitzen to show that Christ is preeminent. Just like Lewis didn’t have to shut out Father Christmas from Narnia to make Aslan great. If you can’t stand one more minute on Amazon, or one more Barbie, or one more mention of Zuzu’s petals, feel free to keep out all the noise, Noise, NOISE! But don’t furrow your ardent brow at your brothers and sisters with all the lights, all the sweets, all the nostalgia, all the campy cartoons, and all the presents under the tree. They will probably be at the Christmas Eve service too.”


The film “A Charlie Brown Christmas” emphasizes that we as humans shouldn’t get lost in the commercialism of the season. How much more true is that for us Christians who know what Christmas is all about?


2. Christmas is About the Advent of King Jesus

In the film Linus gets up on stage and quotes from the KJV:

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)

Matthew demonstrated that Jesus was the King, Son of David, the one greater than Moses. Mark proclaimed the gospel of King Jesus, the Son of God. Luke presents Jesus as the long awaited Jewish Messiah, Savior, Redeemer. In the gospel according to Luke, Luke’s purpose was to give assurance to Theophilus that Jesus was the Messiah of the Old Testament.

Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s plan as the Jewish Messiah. Luke starts in the temple with Zechariah, picking up literally where the Old Testament left off (2 Chron. 36:23). Luke is the only one to give the narrative of the birth of John the Baptist who was too “go before [the Messiah] in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children” (Lk. 1:17; cf. Mal. 4:5-6). Luke records the angel Gabriel (cf. Dan. 8:16; 9:21) appearing to Zechariah and Mary to again show that Christianity is the natural flow from the Old Testament. Luke states, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (1:31-33; cf. Isa. 7:14; 9:6,7; 14:1; 29:22; 46:3). Luke points to Jesus as the coming fulfillment of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants through the praise of Mary (1:46-56) and of Zechariah (1:67-80). The emphasis on both the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants is seen in Luke’s reference to Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6, “You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples — a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel” (1:36,37). At the end of chapter 2, Luke shows that Jesus’ family came right out of the Old Testament. Joseph and Mary have Jesus circumcised on the eighth day at the temple(2:21-24). Luke begins the story of young Jesus in the temple (2:41-52) stressing that “[e]very year His parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival” (v.41). Luke clearly wants Theophilus to recognize that Jesus’ family were faith Old Testament saints. In 3:1-4:13, Luke presents Jesus as the one who has come to fulfill both covenants. John the Baptist prepares the way for the Davidic King who is anticipated by the true sons of Abraham (3:1-21). Jesus is the son of David, the son of Abraham, the son of Adam, the son of God (3:22-38).

Linus in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” reminds us who are Christians that Christmas is all about the advent of our King, our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.


3. We Need a Complete Gospel

“Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” is one of my favorite songs because Charles Wesley’s song is filled with such deep theology. As much as I enjoy Linus getting up and quoting Luke 2 and the Peanut gang singing “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” at the end of the film, the film doesn’t promote the gospel. The film reminds us as Christians the need to present a complete gospel this Christmas.

Who is God and what does He require?

God is holy and righteous. God is holy in His person (Lev 19:2). God always acts in accordance with what is right and is Himself the final standard of what is right. Moses records God is upright (Deut 32:4). The Psalmist declares that God is righteous (Psa 11:7). His rules are all together righteous (Psa 19:9). God is righteous in all that he does (Psa 145:17). God is the Creator and Owner of the universe and all that is in it (Gen 1:1; Psa 24:1). God is holy, perfect, and requires all of humanity to be perfect (Lev 19:2; Matt 5:48). God requires everyone to obey His law perfectly (Jam 2:10).

Who is Man?

Adam and Eve learned immediately that one act of disobedience brought death (Gen. 2:17). Violating any part of God’s character is to violate God’s person as the Creator. Man does not get points for mimicking part of God’s character, for being “good.” A perfect God requires perfect imitation of His image and person. Everyone is a sinner and violates God’s requirement of perfection (Psa 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Rom 3:23). The punishment for this imperfection and sinfulness is death and eternity in hell (Matt 25:41; Rom 6:23). No one can do anything that will save him from that punishment (Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5).

 Who is Christ?

Jesus was more than a man. Jesus was God who manifested Himself in the flesh (1 Tim 3:16). Jesus was fully man, he experienced life. Jesus was fully God as well, not merely a wise and moral man but the Creator and Sustainer of all of life. As the perfect God-man Jesus lived the life of perfection that God requires (1 John 3:5). Jesus died on the cross to save sinners (Rom 5:8) and He rose from the dead, is alive today and has victory over death and sin (1 Cor 15:4). It is only by Him that we can be right before God (2 Cor 5:21; 1 Tim 4:4-6).

 What is the Response?

Our ultimate response is to glorify God. You must repent and turn away from your sin (Isa 55:7; Lk 9:23; Acts 17:30). You must believe in Jesus as your Savior and Lord (Rom 10:9). You must turn over your life completely surrendering to Jesus as your Lord (Matt 16:24; Mark 8:34).