Heaven had been very quiet for 400 years. No burning bushes. No splitting seas. No visions. No dreams. No prophets. No message from God…just silence.
Then, in a magnificent yet uneventful way, a word – but not just a word, The Word came. At the time, the event seemed trivial to all but a blue-collar carpenter and his teenage bride. In fact, the Word of God had taken on flesh and blood and was first heard in a baby’s cry. His birth was less than humble, yet His presence dispelled darkness and cast an unexplainable ray of light across history then and now. God’s promises to Abraham and David had found fulfillment at long last. Jesus would bless all nations and would take His rightful place on David’s throne. It is this event to which everything thus far in The Story has pointed.
Mary was the first to hear the news. In the midst of wedding plans and setting up house, the angel Gabriel pronounced that she had been chosen to give birth to the Son of God. Nothing could have been further from her mind…or her to do list. Mary was engaged and a virgin. The power of the Most High would take care of everything, he said. So Mary rejoiced. She accepted her position as God’s servant and praised Him with purest trust in His plan. Joseph was the next to know. He considered pursuing a quiet, legal termination of their relationship to save them both from the humiliation of an illegitimate pregnancy. However, he received his own angelic visitor, who confirmed Mary’s innocence and gave his blessing on their marriage. Joseph wed Mary and soon after made the journey to Bethlehem to pay his taxes as required by law. The town was bustling, and the inn was full – so the Son of God was born in a lowly stable.
Angels delivered the birth announcement and shepherds became the welcoming committee for the King of Kings. They hurried to see for themselves, and found a surprisingly unassuming setting for a king: a baby in a feeding trough, accompanied by his mother, earthly father, and the local livestock. God also sent signs in the stars and faraway magi charted their course with gifts in hand. King Herod felt threatened by the birth of another monarch, so he ordered the massacre of all the baby boys in the surrounding areas that would have been of Jesus age. God sent angels again so His redemptive plan would stay its course. They warned Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt until it was safe to return.
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus returned to Israel only after Herod’s death and they made their home in Nazareth. Jesus grew up there as the precocious son of reverent Jews. He and His family traveled to Jerusalem every year to celebrate Passover. When Jesus was 12, He stayed behind in the temple unbeknownst to his frantic parents. They found Him sitting with the teachers who were amazed at His words, “in his Father’s house” as young Jesus said . Jesus grew up as all boys do and Scripture tells us that He increased in wisdom and favor with God and with people.
God’s Upper Story intersects with His Lower Story at the birth of Jesus Christ, the God-man. God’s redemptive story approaches its climax as the Son of God from eternity past becomes the Son of Man for eternity future. Messiah has finally come.
What is your favorite part of the Christmas story? Who could you share the good news with?