The Miracle of Christmas

By Mark King

Just what is the "miracle of Christmas?" Is it getting though the holidays without gaining 10 pounds? Is it buying all your gifts without busting the budget? Is it getting your shopping done early? Is it finding a good parking space at the mall? Is it the way Santa can make down and back up the chimney with a huge bag of toys? Is it flying reindeer?

In 1897, an 8-year-old girl wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun. The response (then unsigned) by Francis Church became one of the most famous and reprinted editorials of all time:

I am sure that if Francis Church had been pressed, he would have admitted that he didn't really believe in Santa Claus. What he was saying is that the Santa Claus myth is really all important. It is belief in Santa and the effect that it has upon a child that really matters.

Christmas is a time of wonder. Christmas is the season of miracles. Think of all the Christmas movies that have some element of the miraculous and unexplained — from old favorites like It's a Wonderful Life to more a more recent "classics" like The Polar Express. There are hundreds of "feel good" Christmas movies and books that invite us to suspend disbelief and embrace the wonder and magic — even the miracle of Christmas. And in all of this magic and wonder, you will often find a manger scene with Mary, Joseph, the Baby, shepherds, wise men, some angels, and a variety of animals, bathed under the light of a magical star, with perhaps snow gently falling all around. For some, belief in Jesus is much the same as the belief in Santa Claus that Francis Church promoted.

In the mid 19th century, a number of Bible scholars and theologians began to say that the New Testament was full of myths that had no basis in history. They said that if we want to find out what really happened, we have to dispense with the myths. Later scholars came along and said that what actually happened wasn't really important at all. The myth was all that mattered. Whether Jesus actually rose from the dead was unimportant. What is really important is the power that the myth of resurrection can have on people today. It is not Risen Christ that is powerful, but belief in the Risen Christ that empowers people to live better lives. And of course, God never really entered the human race as a baby, but the Christmas myth communicates that God is near to us and cares about us. Embracing the myth can give us comfort and should cause us to care more about others as well. It is not the power of Christ but the unified power of the Christian community that can change the world. In this line of thinking, the Christmas Miracle has become the Christmas Myth.

If you were able to survey all the churches in the United States this Christmas and ask the pastors who are bringing the Christmas messages if the Baby Jesus was actually God in the flesh who came to die for our sins, I have no doubt that a majority of the answers would range from "No" to "We don't know" to "It doesn't matter." Most churches in the United States have replaced the Christmas Miracle with the Christmas Myth.

The Bible teaches that the Incarnation is not myth but history. In the little town of Bethlehem, God entered the human race as a baby. He lived a perfect life and he died on a cross to pay the penalty of sin for all who would trust him. He rose from the dead and he will come again. This was not a myth, but a miracle that happened in time and space history.

In all this world, there is nothing else real and abiding. He lives. Thank God He lives and He lives forever! Jesus is the Miracle of Christmas!

Image Credit
Alexas_Fotos; untitled; Creative Commons
The letter from the New York Sun

TagsBiblical-Salvation Biblical-Truth Celebrating-Holidays Jesus-Christ

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Published 12-12-16