By Juan Sanchez
“Once upon a time, in a land far, far away . . .”
Many wonderful and timeless children’s stories begin with this classic line, indicating a story that seeks to touch the hearts of children from all times and places.
The Christmas account is similarly timeless and moving. As you read it, however, you’ll quickly notice it’s different from all those fairy tales that begin in an unknown place and time.
What makes the Christmas story so different?
The Christmas story begins in a real time and a real place.
It’s not a “once upon a time” tale. Rather, the story of the Christ’s incarnation is rooted in history. During the reign of Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.) and in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (Luke 1:26), the angel Gabriel told Mary she’d bear a son. The angel didn’t come to a faraway land, but to an unimportant city of Galilee called Nazareth (Luke 1:26).
The Christmas story involves real people.
Mary was a young girl betrothed at a customary age of 13 to 15 years old to a young man named Joseph whose ancestors included David, King of Israel (Luke 1:27).
The Christmas story is about one real and unique person.
The angel Gabriel told Mary she’d conceive and bear a son and name him Jesus (Luke 1:31). Matthew reminds us Jesus had real ancestors, for He was the son of Abraham and the son of David (Matthew 1:1).
Once we understand the historical context of the Christmas story, we’re ready to ask, in Christmas fashion, “What child is this?”
So, What Child Is This?
Luke’s historical record of Jesus’ birth reveals His greatness. Comparing the announcement of Jesus’ birth with that of John’s, we realize that, even though both John’s and Jesus’ conceptions were miraculous, Jesus’ was greater.
John was conceived by parents too old to have children (his mother also being barren). Jesus, on the other hand, was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit by a girl who’d never been with a man (Luke 1:34).
Jesus’s work would also be greater than John’s. Whereas John the Baptist is described as “the prophet of the Most High,” Jesus would be called “the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32), indicating Jesus’ unique identity as the man who was the only begotten of God (John 1:14) and God Himself (John 1:1, 8:58).
As the promised Son of the Most High, Jesus would rule on the throne of His father David forever (Luke 1:32-33), fulfilling God’s promises to David (2 Samuel 7).
As the Messiah and the Christ, Jesus would live a life of obedience and save His people from their sins by dying in their place on the cross.
This is the Christmas story.
It’s the true story about how the God over all creation became a man and died on the cross so that we who deserve death because of our sin, could have life.
This is the Jesus we worship. This is the Jesus we celebrate this time of year. May you and your family have a blessed Christmas.