Summary: The Lord’s humble coming tells us more about His glory than any spectacle ever can.
From my family, I would like to greet each one of you a blessed Christmas! In their December 13, 2004 issue, exactly 5 years ago, Newsweek came up with a cover story about “The Birth of Jesus.” Its subtitle was “From Mary to the manger, how the Gospels mix faith and history to tell the Christmas story and make the case for Christ.” In that article, Newsweek’s managing editor and writer, John Meacham, wrote this: “Just how [Jesus] became flesh is the business of Christmas. If we dissect the stories with care, we can see that the Nativity saga is neither fully fanciful nor fully factual but a layered narrative of early tradition and enduring theology”. In other words, our Christmas story is an odd mix of fancy and facts. Though Newsweek did not say it is not entirely bizarre, it asserted that the story about the birth of Jesus was not entirely based on facts.
After Newsweek came out, that same month and year, on Christmas Eve 2004 Larry King in his TV program over CNN Larry King Live discussed “Who was Jesus?” John Meacham was one of the panelists. He made this startling statement: “I think there is a difference between history and theology… things don’t have to be accurate to be true.” I agree with the response of another guest, Pastor John MacArthur, Jr. “I think that’s a frightening statement, to say things don’t have to be accurate to be true. I mean, now you’ve just said there’s no such thing as truth, or that truth can’t be verified, or that truth isn’t absolute, or the truth isn’t historic.” How can something be true when it is not factual? How can it be true when it is not historical? When it did not happen at all? If it is true, it has to be factual. If it is true, it has to be historical. Faith has to be based on facts of history or it is not true faith at all. Yes, my belief does not make it true. But, it is true that’s why I believe it.
Let us look at the first Christmas as it is described in Luke 2:8-20, when the shepherds met the Shepherd. In verse 7 we see that Mary just gave birth to Jesus. “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” It was such a humble coming! Here’s the Lord wrapped in strips of rags to keep Him warm and He had a feeding box for animals as His crib. He was born in a lowly stable in an obscure town. The Lord’s HUMBLE COMING tells us more about His GLORY than any spectacle ever can.
In questioning whether the account of the birth of Christ is historical or not, Newsweek quoted John Meier, a Catholic priest and professor at Notre Dame. In his book, “A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus,” Meier “points out that there is no convincing evidence Jesus himself ever spoke of his birth, and neither Mary nor Joseph (who is not a figure in the years of Jesus’ public life) appears to have been a direct source.” What Meier was saying is that the Gospels took the story of the birth of Jesus from second-hand sources and not from first-hand testimony. In other words, the Gospel nativity story was based on hearsay and not from history. I beg to disagree. Look at verse 19: “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” If we go down to verse 51 we also read: “And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.” Why would Luke note that in his Gospel account? This is an indication that she was “a primary source for the writing of Luke”. So, Newsweek was wrong. The story of the birth of Jesus is based on direct sources or testimonies. Luke did his research.
Verse 8 tells us: “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” There are people today who claim that we should not celebrate Christmas because they doubt whether it was really December 25. They argue that shepherds allegedly did not really go out during the winter. “Some scholars feel that the sheep were usually brought under cover from November to March; as well, they were not normally in the field at night.” So, they do not want to observe Christmas. I just wonder why those who question Christmas still receive their Christmas bonuses. I mean the company gave those bonuses because of the season. So if they disagree with the reason for the season, they might as well refuse the expressions of the season.