Summary: There are many parallels between Jesus’ birth and His death, burial and resurrection. Thinking about them will bless your Christmas!
What is the Christmas story? People have argued about it for 2 millennia. And what is it purpose? A recent Newsweek poll found that although 84% of Americans call themselves Christians (at least nominally), and 82% say that Jesus is the Son of God - only 67% believe that the Christmas story is historically accurate.
Others are not convinced. Robert J. Miller, a member of The Jesus Seminar (a group that says it is searching for the historical Jesus but rejects the Bible and the supernatural) says that the "Nativity narratives can be seen as Christian responses to the birth stories of pagan heroes like Alexander the Great and Caesar Augustus - literary efforts depicting Jesus as a divine figure in a way Greco-Roman listeners and readers would understand and appreciate."
The tendency to make myth out of the birth of Jesus is a way to avoid dealing with the supernatural - and, ultimately, with our own sin, accountability to God and Jesus as the Lord of the universe and Savior of our souls.
Arguments are made that the Nativity was fabricated or at least pieced together and embellished by early church fathers - partly because it is not contained in the earliest and latest gospels of Mark and John, because the rest of the New Testament is silent on the details surrounding Jesus’ birth, and because the details in Matthew and Luke are so scant.
Add to that the controversy over exactly when Jesus was born - was it December 25th, January 6th, or sometime in April? By the way - since Jesus was likely born in 4 b.c. this year is 2,000 years since Jesus’ birth.
So its no wonder that we lose what may be the most astounding part of the Nativity story - and perhaps goes more to the reason why God chose to record it in this way.
To understand - consider the creation account in Genesis 1. Scholars and scientists have debated for a long time over the scientific accuracy of the creation - yet Genesis is not a science text book. Genealogists have argued over the breaks in family lines and other problems - yet Genesis is not a genealogy.
Genesis is God’s story of the salvation of man - in fact, the entire Bible is dedicated to that end - so too is the story of Jesus birth. I think we can glean a lot from the Nativity by looking 33 years down the road to His death, burial and resurrection.
Area Birth Death/Resurrection
What Jesus gave Gave up His place in heaven to be born a human (Phil 2:6-8) Gave up His freedom and life to die on a cross (Phil 2:6-8)
Accompanied by Alone coming into the earth Alone leaving the earth
End Result One life born Many come to life (Rom 5:17)
After the birth Learned men searched for a leader, saw a great light on the way, and worshiped at His feet (Matt 2:1) A learned man sought to destroy this leader, on the way he saw a blinding light and ended up worshipping and serving this King (Paul Acts 9:3)
1. At Christmas we should marvel at the birth, but don’t think of it as an isolated event.
We sometimes forget amidst the celebrating a birth and giving gifts and all that - that this didn’t happen in a vacuum - that God said after the birth of Jesus "Oh, well He made it - now what do I do with Him?"
How this should shape our Christmas: Sometimes Christmas is a lonely and depressing time as we remember family times we don’t have anymore - relationships that are broken or a life that is not like we would like it. Remember that God holds your life in the palm of His hand and nothing that happens is random - though often difficult.
Romans 8:28-29 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.