When we think about the Christmas story, our minds are filled with images we’ve seen or ideas we were taught growing up. Some of it right. Some of it, well, less than accurate. It can be difficult for us, in our 21st century Western culture, to see both the people and events of that first Christmas the way they actually were. It’s not that these things are necessarily bad or sinful, they just can cloud our understanding and ability to think deeply about the beauty of what truly took place.
Having a deeper understanding of what really happened will give us better grasp of the Bible, the God of the Bible, and ourselves. It will also allow us to pass on to our children the reality, seriousness, and historicity of a story that often gets commercialized, distorted, watered down, and fairytale-ized today.
This is not just a story for kids that we read once a year so they can dress up in shower curtains, bath robes, and Burger King crowns, or so we can have a good back story for our cute little Miss Martha’s Originals nativity set. I’m not slamming on nativity sets or Christmas plays. My wife, kids, and I have been in tons of them and will be in more, I’m sure. And I stare at our cute little Miss Martha’s nativity set as I write.
The point is that I fear we can easily forget the significance of it all (I’ve been guilty of it). This is the story of God, Creator God, Omnipotent God coming to earth as a man (a baby) in human flesh. God the Son, second Person of the Trinity, set aside His divine rights, subjecting Himself to the laws that govern a world that HE MADE! No amount of set directors, camera angles, or star studded casts can capture the significance of this story. But, if we slow down and actually think about it for a while, we might just be led to the same conclusion the wise men came to – worship the Lord!
I love reading the Jesus Storybook Bible stories to my kids, and then also being able to communicate to them what was happening in the context of that culture. It helps them connect with the humanity of the people in the story. They know that the story is real, but now they can grow in their appreciation of it, and truly understand what they are celebrating and why we celebrate the birth of a little Jewish baby in the first place.