The Christmas Story
What does Christmas mean to you? Times with family and friends? Perhaps carols, cards, television specials? Maybe hectic shopping, family get togethers around the fireplace, and decorating the tree? All these and more are part of Christmas in America, but a far cry from the first Christmas in Bethlehem. It was a simple scene that first Christmas – a rough room, a young couple, and nothing but a manger to put baby Jesus in. It was probably cold. Joseph and Mary had no support since the family was far away. Not exactly the Hallmark moment we like to show in Christmas pageants. And yet this simple scene marked the greatest event in the history of humankind.
God’s Son became man and came to earth to save us. God had promised to send a Messiah, one who would save His people. He could have easily burst on the scene as a full grown man, a seven-foot warrior with fiery eyes and arms of steel. Or He could have been a mighty king, or a hero. No doubt this is what most people were expecting. But that was not God’s plan. The Messiah came as a whisper, a very small package, wrapped in rags, given from the heart of God; the perfect gift.
Something To Talk About:
Christ, the Savior is born: To understand the significance of the Christmas story we must first understand the significance of Jesus coming as the Messiah. Man had never actually seen God represented on earth. Many wonderful, godly people had represented God to the best of their ability, but at the end of the day they were men and thus flawed and sinful. They had never seen God, and as a result they deduced His nature and character from what they read in the Scripture. But Jesus was God and was without sin and, as such, was the only person who had ever lived or would ever live that could properly represent God. Hebrews says He was the perfect representation of God. “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3)
Jesus emptied Himself and became a man in every way. He had been tempted every way just as we are, yet always overcame temptation. As such He was the only person who would be merciful to us in our struggle and the only one who could show us how to always overcome sin. He was the perfect model of what man could really be and do.
The Christmas story is the most revolutionary story in the history of the world. It’s a story of God not just interacting with history or directing it, but entering into history. It’s a story of God made flesh, setting aside all His divine rights to become a helpless baby and ultimately the perfect sacrifice for our sins.
- What is the real meaning of Christmas? What is your favorite part of the Christmas story?
- Why did God allow for such a messy story to usher in the birth of Jesus? How would things be different if Jesus was born into a picture perfect scenario?
- Compare Joseph’s story in Matthew 1:18-23 and Mary’s in Luke 1:26-38. What do you think they were feeling and thinking at that moment? What parts can you relate to in this season of your life?
- We can know the story of Christmas, but completely miss the message behind it. Why does this happen? What puts us in the position of missing it?
- Be honest. Do you see the Christmas story as exciting and relevant or boring and outdated? How does that influence the way you see God?
- Christmas was never meant to be an event or a season, it was meant to be a gift. Agree or disagree and why?
- What is Jesus whispering to you this Christmas season?
Take One Thing Home with You:
There is a story in the first half of the Bible that relates Elijah’s experience of hearing God speak to him found in 1 Kings 19. God tells Elijah to “Go out and stand before me on the mountain.” (Vs 11) Verses 11-12 continue “And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.”
Why does God speak in a whisper? We whisper to others when they are close, maybe a step away. God speaks to us in a whisper because He is close. He doesn’t need to speak any louder. You don’t shout when you’re close to someone. You talk at the appropriate volume. And Paul explains: “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” (Acts 17:24, NIV).
From the manger to the cross to today, God is close.