The True Christmas Story

Nativity scene
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The movie “A Christmas Story” is a hilarious account of a family getting ready for Christmas and all their misadventures.  It is one of my all-time favorite movies to watch during this time of year.  However, it falls far short of the true Christmas story.

Another favorite Christmas movie of mine is the “Charlie Brown Christmas.”  It is one of those rare moments when television gets it right!  Charlie Brown wrestles throughout the first half of the program trying the find the true meaning of Christmas.  He finally asks Linus for help.  The classic scene is during the children’s play practice when Linus, playing a shepherd, reads the words of the Biblical writer Luke.  What is special is the Gospel is proclaimed every year through the mouth of a cartoon character.  Interestingly, Linus reads from the King James Version of the Bible.

Luke 2:8-14 (KJV)

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

My focus will center on the words Luke wrote in verse 11, For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”  Here we see the most important words to all mankind; the words of an angel bringing good news of great joy because a savior has been born.  Who is this savior born in a manger?  Why do we need a savior?

The word savior is used in the Old Testament referring to God (one possible exception).  We read in Isaiah 43:11 “I, even I, am the LORD, and there is no savior besides Me.”  In the New Testament God the Father is called savior in Luke 1:47 [Mary speaking] And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” The Bible teaches God is the only savior and yet, that title in Luke and elsewhere is applied to Jesus Christ, implying He is God.  Matthew further identifies this savior when he writes, Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.”  Jesus is God taking on human flesh.  

The savior is identified by the angel as Christ the Lord.  In Genesis 12:1-3 God promised Abraham that his offspring would be a blessing to the entire earth.  Multiple verses from the Old Testament pointed to a coming Messiah who would bring this blessing.  The Jews for thousands of years had been awaiting the arrival of this Messiah.  Now the angel announces he has arrived.  The title “Christ” is the Greek word for the Hebrew word “Messiah,” which means anointed one.  The long awaited one who was going to fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant and bring blessing to the world was now been born in Bethlehem.  This was good news of great joy!

This savior is also called “the Lord.”  This very same term is used of God the Father in many verses (Matt. 1:20; 9:38; 11:25; Acts 17:24; Rev. 4:11) and of Jesus (John 20:28; Acts 10:36; 1 Cor. 2:8; Phil 2:11) all indicating equality.  Millard Erickson writes, “For the Jews particularly, term Lord suggested that Christ was equal with the Father[1].”  This baby, the savior, was fully God and fully man.

Why do we need a savior?  The Bible is very clear we are all sinners.  The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 3:23 “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”   The penalty for sin is eternal separation from God.  Paul writes in Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Death here represents spiritual death and separation from God for all eternity.  However, the free gift of God is eternal life, found only in Christ Jesus our Lord.  We need a savior to save us from our sins, so we can experience heaven for all eternity. 

This is the true story of Christmas.  It is not found in most movies, plays, and songs about Christmas.  Most of them portray false information about the Biblical story.  And don’t be fooled by the word “story” in the title.  Luke writes a historical narrative about the birth of the savior Jesus Christ.  Christmas is the true story of the birth of one who was born to die; Jesus lived a perfect life and was nailed to a cross to pay the penalty you and I deserve.  Christmas is the celebration of the giving of the gift of God and for those that follow this baby, to all of us, receive life everlasting.   

Merry Christmas

Steve Bruecker

[1] Erickson, Millard, Christian Theology, Baker Book House, G.R. Michigan 1990, p. 690-691

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