Where Does Christmas Begin?
December 25, 2011 - "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."
—Luke 2:10, KJV
by Billy Graham
For our family the Christmas story is different from the traditional manger scene that is representative of Christmas for many people.
Of course, the manger scene is an important part of Christmas in our home—the joyous and beloved climax to the story. But it is only a part of the story. For Christmas does not begin in the stable of Bethlehem. It does not begin in the Gospel of Luke, but in the book of Genesis.
Visitors to our home at Christmastime are sometimes startled when I read the tragic story from the Old Testament. "Aren't these grim thoughts for this happy time of year?" they ask. "The season of Jesus' birth is no time to talk of death. What do Adam and Eve have to do with Christmas?"
To which we answer, "Everything." Without the story of sin in the Old Testament, what can the Good News of the New Testament say? Without sin, we have no need of a Savior. We cannot separate our joy at Christ's birth from our desperate need for Him.
Unless we have witnessed the tragedy of man's separation from God through the millennia before Bethlehem, then the birth of a Baby in a stable is just that for us, no more.
Nor can we separate Jesus' birth from the work He came to earth to do. Without His death, His birth has no meaning. The birth without the cross is a gift half-given. Many people would rather not think of the cross at Christmastime. They take the angels' proclamation but reject all that it implies. In doing this, they rob themselves of the full joy of Christmas.
Children are more realistic than adults. They have no trouble in grasping the real meaning of good and evil in a story. In this respect, we need to be more like children. When we see Christmas not as a sentimental, isolated event, but as the focal point in human history, it becomes a day of rejoicing indeed.
I believe that it has never been more important than it is today for us to read and to love the Bible. We can take courage from men like Noah and Moses who closed their ears to the many in order to listen to the One. And when we listen to the One, we will see in the entire Bible the glorious meaning of Christ's Coming.
For it is in God's Word that Christ says, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."(1) He is "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."(2) He is the promised Messiah of ancient Israel. He is the hope of the hopeless.
Jesus is not only the Christ, He is also God, our Savior and Lord. This is a staggering, almost incomprehensible truth: God Himself has come in the Person of His only Son. The incarnation and the full deity of Jesus are the cornerstones of the Christian faith. Jesus Christ was not just a great teacher or a holy religious leader. He is God Himself in human flesh—fully God and fully man.
In spite of our human limitations and even our failures, the Lord God is sovereignly directing His own work of redemption through evangelism. And we are linked to the vast resources of His power so that we don't merely "get by" in our lives and ministries, but "in all these things we are more than conquerors through him."(3)
Because Jesus is one with God and was sent by the Father into human history,(4) the cross is an objective demonstration of divine love.(5) Our faith is built on the fact of Christ's resurrection.
That is why we rejoice! That is the foundation of the truth we declare and the Kingdom we extend to people. For this is the call that Christ has placed upon all of us—because of who He is and what He did, we are commissioned to tell all of the wonderful and glorious salvation in Christ.
(1) John 8:12, KJV. (2) John 1:29, KJV. (3) Romans 8:37, KJV. (4) John 20:21. (5) Romans 5:8.