I had originally planned to wrap up the book of 1 Samuel this morning, but for a variety of reasons, I’ve decided to put that off for today, and instead, I’d like to begin turning our focus towards Christmas. I think Hope and all the kids have done a great job of starting that already as they take us through the progression of advent.
As we enter the season of Christmas, I think it’s important that we remind ourselves of it’s significance. Christmas is not just another holiday. It is foundational to our faith. Without the reality of that first Christmas, we truly would have no reason for hope, joy, or peace! The physical birth of Jesus Christ is central to our understanding of the Gospel. And so this morning, I want to remind us of the significance of Christmas.
Now the passage that I want to look at today isn’t one of your typical Christmas passages. It’s not directly related to the story of Mary & Joseph or the wisemen or the shepherds or even one of the many prophecies in the Old Testament that point us towards the birth of the Messiah. But it is very much related to the birth of Christ.
Each of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John) – all tell the story of Jesus, but they are all very different in how they approach the story of his birth. For example, Matthew tends to focus on Jesus’ father, Joseph, and he spends a great deal of time explaining the visit of the wise men and how King Herod reacted to the birth of this new born king! In contrast to that, Luke focuses more on Mary – and doesn’t even mention the wisemen, but he includes the details of the shepherds who were out in the fields and how the angels announced Jesus’ birth to them. Then, in contrast to both of Luke & Matthew, Mark skips over Jesus’ birth entirely and jumps into the story after Jesus was already an adult.
And that leaves us with the Gospel of John – which presents Jesus’ birth in yet another way. John doesn’t really give us any specific, historic details of Jesus’ birth, but rather, he gives us a brief summary or introduction to who Jesus is and then explains why Jesus was born – rather than giving us all the details of how Jesus was born. It’s a bit more of a big picture view rather than a detailed series of events.
And so that’s what I want to look at this morning. In the weeks ahead, we’ll go through the stories and events of how Jesus came to be born, but I want to start with the more foundational issue and that is “Who exactly is this Jesus who was born some 2000 years ago and what is so significant about his birth?”