This is How We Should Read the Christmas Story

    Think about this for a moment:

    • A miracle baby is born to a couple too old to have children.
    • A son is born as a sign that God’s people will be redeemed.
    • Someone named Yeshua will lead God’s people into enjoyment of the blessings promised to Abraham.
    • A shepherd-king comes out of Bethlehem.
    • A wicked king tries to kill all the male babies, but one escapes: the one through whom redemption will come to God’s people.
    • God speaks through dreams to a man named Joseph, the son of Jacob, who comes to Egypt for the redemption of God’s people.

    You may recognize these as the stories of Zechariah and Elizabeth and John the Baptist; of Mary and Jesus (in Hebrew, Yeshua); of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem; of the escape from king Herod to Egypt; and of Joseph, the son of Jacob and husband of Mary.

    These are also the stories of Abraham and Sarah and Isaac; of Isaiah; of Joshua (also Yeshua in Hebrew); of king David; of Pharaoh and Moses; and of Joseph the son of Jacob and grandson of Isaac.

    The characters in the Christmas story recorded in the early chapters of Matthew and Luke re-live the stories of the redemption of God’s people.  In this way we see a confirmation that all the old stories were pointing to this story.  This is how we need to see Christmas: as the beginning of the climax of a long history of redemption, which begins with Adam and leads all the way to Mary.

    Wait; this picture’s not accurate!  They left out the little drummer boy!
    (from Abraham Hondius, 1663)

    Of course, a story that has been going on for a couple of millennia will have a climax that lasts a few years.  It lasts about thirty, in fact, and the other end of it is captured in two other holidays: Good Friday and Easter, where some of the other stories of redemption are re-lived:

    • The seed of the woman defeats Satan—the story of Eve, and the story of Mary.
    • A holy God must punish sin, but people can be saved through the wooden way God provides—the story of Noah’s ark, and the story of the Cross.
    • God tells his people how a lamb may die in their place for their sin—the story of the Passover, and the story of the Cross.
    • A prophet is in darkness for three days.  His message is a light to the Gentiles, a preaching of repentance and forgiveness of sins for them—the story of Jonah, and the story of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
    The last prophet to hail the coming of the Christ sums it all up nicely: John the Baptist:

    “Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!”
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