The Real Story of Christmas
As we all know, the Christmas holiday season has evolved over the years into a retail crescendo beginning on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving or even sooner if you follow the pre-Black Friday sales) and ending sometime after Christmas Day as stores celebrate their “post-Christmas markdowns”.
As a result, it’s easy to forget the real “reason for the season”. With that in mind, this week I want to share with you a gift I received from a friend several years ago.
“The Christmas Story” is a compilation of verses from scripture that point to the coming of Jesus Christ. The story begins in the Old Testament in the book of 2 Samuel which dates to 600 BC.
Over the years, I’ve shared this story with different study groups I’ve been a part of, read the verses around the dinner table with my family and reflected on them during my daily quiet time.
Please accept this compilation of verses from scripture as my gift to you this Christmas with the hope that they are an encouragement to you and the ones you love.
The Christmas Story
2 Samuel 23:3-4
The God of Israel spoke.
The Rock of Israel said to me:
'The person who rules righteously,
who rules in the fear of God,
he is like the light of the morning,
like the sunrise bursting forth in a cloudless sky,
like the refreshing rains that bring tender grass from the earth.'
Out of the stump of David's family will grow a shoot—yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root. 2And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3He will delight in obeying the Lord. He will never judge by appearance, false evidence, or hearsay. 4He will defend the poor and the exploited. He will rule against the wicked and destroy them with the breath of his mouth. 5He will be clothed with fairness and truth. 6In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard and the goat will be at peace. Calves and yearlings will be safe among lions, and a little child will lead them all. 7The cattle will graze among bears. Cubs and calves will lie down together. And lions will eat grass as the livestock do. 8Babies will crawl safely among poisonous snakes. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes and pull it out unharmed. 9Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain. And as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord. 10In that day the heir to David's throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, for the land where he lives will be a glorious place.
5"For the time is coming," says the Lord, "when I will place a righteous Branch on King David's throne. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. 6And this is his name: 'The Lord Is Our Righteousness.' In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety.
14"The day will come, says the Lord, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good I have promised them. 15At that time I will bring to the throne of David a righteous descendant, and he will do what is just and right throughout the land. 16In that day Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety. And their motto will be 'The Lord is our righteousness!'
9Rejoice greatly, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—even on a donkey's colt. 10I will remove the battle chariots from Israel and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and I will destroy all the weapons used in battle. Your king will bring peace to the nations. His realm will stretch from sea to sea and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth.
26In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28Gabriel appeared to her and said, "Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!" 29Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30"Don't be frightened, Mary," the angel told her, "for God has decided to bless you! 31You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus. 32He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!" 34Mary asked the angel, "But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin." 35The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36What's more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she's already in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God." 38Mary responded, "I am the Lord's servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true." And then the angel left.
18Now this is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19Joseph, her fiancé, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly.
20As he considered this, he fell asleep, and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. "Joseph, son of David," the angel said, "do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." 22All of this happened to fulfill the Lord's message through his prophet: 23"Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel (meaning, God is with us)." 24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded. He brought Mary home to be his wife, 25but she remained a virgin until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2(This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3All returned to their own towns to register for this census. 4And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David's ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time.
6And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn. 8That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, 10but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! 11The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!" 13Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God: 14"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors."*
15When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Come on, let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished, 19but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said.
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2"Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have seen his star as it arose, and we have come to worship him."
3Herod was deeply disturbed by their question, as was all of Jerusalem. 4He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law. "Where did the prophets say the Messiah would be born?" he asked them.
5"In Bethlehem," they said, "for this is what the prophet wrote:
6'O Bethlehem of Judah,
you are not just a lowly village in Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.' "
7Then Herod sent a private message to the wise men, asking them to come see him. At this meeting he learned the exact time when they first saw the star. 8Then he told them, "Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!" 9After this interview the wise men went their way. Once again, the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star they were filled with joy! 11They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were, and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12But when it was time to leave, they went home another way, because God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.13After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up and flee to Egypt with the child and his mother," the angel said. "Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to try to kill the child." 14That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, 15and they stayed there until Herod's death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: "I called my Son out of Egypt." 16Herod was furious when he learned that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, because the wise men had told him the star first appeared to them about two years earlier. 17Herod's brutal action fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah:
18"A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah—weeping and mourning unrestrained. Rachel weeps for her children,
refusing to be comforted—for they are dead."*
19When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and told him, 20"Get up and take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead." 21So Joseph returned immediately to Israel with Jesus and his mother. 22But when he learned that the new ruler was Herod's son Archelaus, he was afraid. Then, in another dream, he was warned to go to Galilee. 23So they went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what was spoken by the prophets concerning the Messiah: "He will be called a Nazarene."
In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn't make. 4Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. 5The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
6God sent John the Baptist 7to tell everyone about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8John himself was not the light; he was only a witness to the light. 9The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was going to come into the world. 10But although the world was made through him, the world didn't recognize him when he came. 11Even in his own land and among his own people, he was not accepted. 12But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan—this rebirth comes from God. 14So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. 15John pointed him out to the people. He shouted to the crowds, "This is the one I was talking about when I said, 'Someone is coming who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before I did.' "
16We have all benefited from the rich blessings he brought to us—one gracious blessing after another. 17For the law was given through Moses; God's unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. But his only Son, who is himself God, is near to the Father's heart; he has told us about him.
15Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before God made anything at all and is supreme over all creation. 16Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see—kings, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities. Everything has been created through him and for him. 17He existed before everything else began, and he holds all creation together. 18Christ is the head of the church, which is his body. He is the first of all who will rise from the dead, so he is first in everything. 19For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, 20and by him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of his blood on the cross.
1 John 5:11-13
11And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12So whoever has God's Son has life; whoever does not have his Son does not have life. 13I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.