26 Dec, 2022 The theology of Christmas (Part 1)
By Katie Stallings
Image: Deposit Photo
Christmas has come to an end, but the story of Christmas can continue to live in our hearts as we push onward into 2023. Many people have grown up hearing the nativity story or have at least seen a program based on the event of Jesus’s birth. Most of these portrayals are similar: a wooden structure with a triangular roof, a wooden box, shepherds, and wise men coming together to worship the new baby King.
It is not wrong of us to think of this scene each time we think of Christ’s birth. It can, however, be unjust to understand that these replicas of the manger scene are authentic.
We picture this simple scene when we read the Christmas story in Luke chapter 2. There is much more to absorb and know about the best historical event than just reading it. Studying the Word of God is an incredible journey that will leave you in awe of God. I have deeply studied several books of the Bible, and it has drawn me in more than any movie ever could. It is so beautifully crafted and written that there is no underestimating an all-powerful deity as the author.
I encourage you to evaluate how you think of the nativity based on how you have learned it. We have been taught the story or see it through the media’s portrayal. No matter your perception, today, we are looking at the miracle of Christmas through the lens of Biblical Theology.
Before, There Was Jesus
Did you know that Jesus has been around since the beginning? Yes! Genesis 1:1-3 speaks of the Holy Trinity:
1: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
2: Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the deep surface, and The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3: And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Note that the sun, moon, planets, and stars were created on day four (Gen. 1:14-16). These lights were authorized by God to “…be for signs and seasons, and days and years (Gen. 1:14). Notice where it says their purpose is “for signs?” but more on that later. Let’s reveal in the knowledge that Jesus did not exist just from the first century onward; He has always been! God created the heavens and the earth, The Holy Spirit was over the waters, and Jesus shed His Light on the dark and formless world. John confirms all of this in John chapter 1:
1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2: He was at the beginning with God.
14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us
He also recognizes Jesus Christ as the Light of the World when he speaks of the ministry of John the Baptist.
6: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7: This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.
8: He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9: That was the true Light which gives Light to every man coming into the world.
If you continue to John 8:12, Jesus confirms: “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the Light of life.” We see only a portion of how Scripture confirms who Christ is – and people say the Bible is boring?! This is only the beginning of our dive into the existence of Jesus!
Before, There Was Jesus
The first place we are introduced to Jesus in the Bible is Genesis 1:3, but what about the story of His time spent on earth? You will find the answer if you move down a few chapters. Chapter 3 in Genesis is one of the most heartbreaking of the Old Testament – the fall of humanity. God was not as surprised by this as we may think. He already had a plan in place, and Genes 3:15 tells us of this plan:
“I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise his heel.”
Satan would “bruise His heel” through death on the cross as He took on sin. Christ, however, “bruised the serpent’s head” when He rose from the dead and will in Revelation 20 when Satan is cast into death. That’s a lot of information for just one verse, but the Bible is so intentional! Christ is reflected throughout the entire Old Testament. The story of Abraham and Isaac, the story of Joseph, the tale of the Israelite’s escape from Egypt – the list of stories goes on and on!
We hear of His first coming again through the Old Testament prophets. Isaiah 7:14 foretells 700 years before that, “the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and call him Immanuel.” There are over 100 prophecies of the first coming of Jesus in the Old Testament. Many of the religious leaders during Jesus’s ministry studied these texts and still missed Him when He was in front of their faces speaking with them. How many people still miss Jesus- Christian or non-Christian- when He is right in front of us trying to talk with us?
The Word is Delivered
Can we imagine what she felt when Gabriel told Mary she would carry the Son of God? Probably not. Moms can relate to the excitement of pregnancy. But Gabriel told her she had found such favor with God that she was chosen to carry His Son. Between hearing that and seeing the angel, I would have been sobbing! Mary knew God and would have likely heard the prophecies of Jesus’s coming as she grew up in her culture. That must have been overwhelming. One thing we can confirm about her was she was not free from sin. She was divinely in place in the first century, in her town, and her family for this purpose. Her engagement to Joseph was no accident either. God chose Joseph to be the earthly father of His Son. There is not much said about him.
However, we are allowed a small glimpse at his character and kind nature when he learns of Mary’s pregnancy. He is willing to dismiss her quietly, so that there is no public humiliation. This reveals his kind nature, love, and respect for Mary and her family. We can also credit him with being as obedient as Mary, as he did not argue when the angel gave him instructions in a dream to stay with Mary. Joseph, too, would have likely been exposed to scripture growing up. He probably knew the Lord as Mary did. These were to be the earthly parents of God in the flesh. God had them set apart from others for this purpose before the world began. How amazing is that?!
Journey to Bethlehem
When you were a teenager, did you ever have to make a long trek alone? It might have been daunting. I remember taking a trip to Ohio when I was 15 with my family, and I rode in an airplane for the first time. I loved the flight, but getting to the plane was very intimidating. The security, navigating through the airport, and seeing so many different people were overwhelming! I had the advantage of being with my family, but what about Mary and Joseph? We are never told that family or friends traveled with the couple. Two young, newlywed teens were days away from welcoming a baby into the world.
Could you imagine that journey for Mary? One day I hope to experience the joy of carrying a child. While I have not yet experienced pregnancy and birth, I know many who have. Some women have shared with me that their bodies were tired throughout pregnancy, and that it was uncomfortable in those final months. This is the stage Mary would have probably been in, and she traveled the road to Bethlehem anyway. I wonder how many times they had to stop on the trip!
Modern technology allows us to find travel time on foot and by car. By car, it would take over two hours to get to Bethlehem from Nazareth. The estimated 94-mile journey would take 31 hours on foot, likely without stopping and keeping a consistent pace. Realistically, it would have taken Mary and Joseph around 4- 7 days to arrive in the town of Bethlehem. Can you believe we have the luxuries of cars and GPS, and yet we still complain? They did this all while she was about to have a baby.
Let’s pay attention to the role of Joseph. He was the leader of the family on the trip, and he was looking after his pregnant wife. Boys reached maturity around 13 or 14 in those days, and most people would have been married in their later teens. We can assume Joseph was between the ages of 18-20. Joseph had much weight to bear as they entered Bethlehem. It was a new town, he was duty-bound to register for taxes, and he had the daunting task of finding a place for himself and Mary. I never thought much of why Bethlehem would have been so crowded until I watched Dr. David Jeremiah’s Why the Nativity? Docudrama. It is so obvious, but people would have been traveling out of town just like the couple from Nazareth to register for taxes. Because of the overflow, they were forced to resort to a place where animals were kept.
The story of Jesus is so rich and beautiful! The fascinating details of his birth were unknown to me until I began to venture into the Bible and truly examine the full background of the words. We will take a deeper look into the theology of Christmas in Part Two!
The opinions in this article are specific to its author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire Counter Culture Mom team.
As a proud North Carolina girl, Katie Stallings follows her love for writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her other passions include Jesus, Bible Theology and Eschatology, singing, acting, and uncovering the truth about secret societies, the elite, and things hidden in plain sight. Katie discovered the deceit of the entertainment industry in her early 20s, which led her down a path of exposing the darkness that Hollywood promotes and the evil in the political world.
When she is not working, doing school work, or trying to pack her mind full of information, you will find her with her family or friends, spending time with her nephew, and working in her home church, all with a coffee in her hand.
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