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When looking at and thinking about the Christmas story, it is understandable that we go first, and rightfully so, to the Gospel accounts of the birth of Christ found in Matthew and Luke. After all they spell out in detail the facts of the miracle of the Virgin Birth of Jesus, The Son of God. Matthew begins the story by laying out the genealogy of Christ, demonstrating the sequence of generations as Israel anticipated the birth of David’s Son — the Messiah. Luke, striving to lay out “an orderly account” of the events concerning Jesus, begins with the excitement of John the Baptist’s birth and then pays great detail to telling of the virgin conception of Jesus.
Matthew gives particular attention to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Like the virgin birth, birth in Bethlehem of Judea, the anger of Herod and the subsequent massacre of babies, the escape to Egypt, and the role of the forerunner John the Baptist; all specific fulfillments of Old Testament prophecy! So, the Christmas story doesn’t begin in Bethlehem, no, Israel had long been promised the Messiah. As Luke reveals, when Simeon saw the baby Jesus in the temple, he clearly understood this infant to be “the Lord’s Christ” — the Davidic Messiah! The Christmas story did not begin in Bethlehem, or even in Jerusalem… so where does it begin?
To answer this question, we need to turn to the text from Sunday’s message: John opens his gospel with the following: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” [John 1:1-3] John draws from the language of Genesis, in the beginning… in other words, where does the Christmas story begin? With God, “in the beginning”, before the world even existed! We must be careful not to equate the story of Bethlehem and the manger with the beginning of Christmas. Why? Because if the Christmas story begins at the manger, it would seem as if the incarnation of Christ, the coming of the Baby Jesus, was God’s “plan B” after the fall of man and sin. BUT nothing is further from the truth! Jesus was before the world began, eternal, He has always been. Before a single atom was formed God had planned to come to His creation in saving Love!
When viewed in that context it would seem to me that the majesty and the miracle of Christmas is all the more displayed! God’s love, His perfect love, precedes even His Divine creation! Wow! Merry Christmas!!
In Christ,
Pastor Ben