Summary: From the story of Christmas, I learned practical lessons about SOVEREIGNTY, SOUL-MATE, SUBMISSION, AND SELF-SACRIFICE.
THE CHRISTMAS STORY
The play we just watched is called “The First Noel.” Of course, “Noel” is the name of the boy in the play. However, the word noel has its origin in the French language and it means Christmas. So, the “first noel” means the first Christmas.
I saw two dominant themes in the play. The first is grace. The boy Noel went into all the auditions and unfortunately he did not qualify for any role. It is only of sheer “grace” on the part of the director who created a role for him. The second is greatness. Noel took a risk. He departed from the script. Instead of reciting his well-practiced line “No room!” he offered to Mary and Joseph his humble room. That is unquestionably an act of kindness. And, an act of kindness is an act of greatness. I want to weave these two themes into the Christmas story.
The Christmas story is the greatest story ever told. It is the story of what God did to save you and me. It started at the beginning of the human race. God created man in His image so that he can appreciate and enjoy His creation that he would inherit.
The moment Adam and Eve fell into sin, God put into motion His greatest work—His work of saving man. He carefully unfolded His plan through prophetic revelation. Revelatory sign-posts were set up. Specific predictions were given hundred of years before their fulfillment. Then when the time arrived, He sent His only begotten Son into the world to deliver man from the prison of sin by winning the mother of all wars—the war against Satan, sin, and death—and bringing man back into the kingdom of God.
That’s the whole story of Christmas. We cannot fully understand the story of nativity, which is the story of the birth of the Savior, unless we see it against the backdrop of this glorious victory. Biblical history answers the what, the why, the when, and the how of Christmas.
Now, since I only have a few minutes, let me share with you some lessons I learned in the story of the nativity.
Sovereignty. God chose Mary to be a special vessel of honor. No one before her and no one after her would have this honor. She was chosen by God to be the earthly mother of His Son. She was chosen to be the vehicle through whom the eternal Son of God, the second person of the trinity, would be born into our world.
Was Mary chosen because she was pretty? No. Was she chosen because she was a princess? Absolutely not. She was the daughter of a peasant. Was she chosen because she was a celebrity? Was she chosen because she had a doctor’s degree? Was she chosen because of who she was or because of what she had done? A resounding no. It was a divine prerogative. It was God’s sovereign grace.
And so was Noel. Although he failed the auditions, he was given a role in the play. That was an act of “sovereign grace” on the part of the director of the play.
Thank God for sovereign grace. The Bible says that not many of us who were chosen are wise, educated, rich, and powerful. God chose us from among the millions regardless of who we are and what we have done. That’s His prerogative. He chooses whoever He wants. And for you and me, that is sovereign grace. And it is sweet to the soul!
Soul-mate. When the angel told Mary that she will conceive and become the mother of the Son of God, how did she respond? If you were in her place, what would you do? Go to Mommy and say, “Mom, I’m pregnant!” What do you think Mommy would do? Either she would tell you that you are crazy or she would pull your hair and scream to your face: “Why did you do this to us? You are a disgrace to the family!”
How about telling Joseph? Mary would say, “Hi, Dude, I am pregnant!” Joseph would respond, “Cool!” No way. Joseph will hold her by the shoulder and shake her like a tree, at the same time yelling, “Who did this to you? I’ll kill him!” Or, “you are an embarrassment to me. You hurt me. I’ll kill you!”
Can you imagine her precarious situation? She had this huge secret weighing on her young spirit and she had no one to tell. What did she do? She went to Cousin Elizabeth in the hill country of Judea. That’s several days travel for a teenager. That’s actually what she was at this time—just a teenager. She found a soul-mate in Cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth welcomed her with open arms. She comforted her. And Mary stayed there for six months!