6 Lessons Hidden in the Christmas Story
- Ruthie Gray Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2017 29 Dec
What’s the best story you’ve ever heard—the one that drew you in and had you hanging on every word until the end? The dynamics probably involved suspense, danger, and heart-tugging moments.
And for me, the best stories are those with happy endings (Ahem—Hallmark movies).
Since many of us grew up hearing the Christmas story, sometimes the wonder is lost in the retelling (like watching a Christmas classic such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the 49th time).
But for today, sit back and watch the story unfold from 6 hidden lessons you may have never considered.
1. God offers forgiveness to all
“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit" (Isaiah 11:1-2).
The underlying message, woven throughout the Christmas story, is “God and sinners reconciled”. Whether we’re proud of our ancestral roots or not, we’re stuck with them. And while we don’t get to choose our lineage, God chose Christ’s human ancestry right from David’s seed.
David—the man after God’s own heart, yet David—the man who committed adultery. This speaks to our Father’s abundant mercy! The Messiah descended from a royal human bloodline, but one riddled with human frailty. But Christ’s heavenly ancestry rang perfect, pure, and holy.
This is the ministry of reconciliation. God sent Emmanuel—God with us, to “save His people from their sins”; no matter who we are, or what we’ve done.
2. Christ will be our shepherd
"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'" (Luke 2:13-14).
Shepherds were looked down on in Bethlehem society. People didn’t exactly rub elbows with them at social events. But God’s message was clear—this hope was for ALL people, including shepherds!
There is another reason why the appearance to the shepherds is important. Ezekiel 34:15, “'I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,' says the Lord God”, is just one of many passages in the Old Testament referring to Christ as our Shepherd. Christ came to bestow peace, but also to lead us. What a comfort!
3. God can perform the impossible
“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. and His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation'” (Luke 1:46-50).
Cousins Mary and Elizabeth each had miraculous reasons to rejoice! God had honored their everyday faithfulness by granting them pregnancies. Both seemed impossibilities; one, an old woman of 80 years; the other, a virgin.
As the angel said to Mary upon the announcement that she would conceive in holiness, “For nothing shall be impossible with God”.
4. God provides in His way
"So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:6-7).
We tend to glance over the stable birth, forgetting how traumatizing that would be for an expectant mom. But you can be sure that Mary, a female, probably fretted over this.
Each of the four times I was pregnant, I worried about the timing of delivery. Would it be during the night? Would we get to the hospital in time? What if we were on a trip?
Well, Mary was on a trip! And not only that, she couldn’t find a decent room in which to have her baby! She also had to lay him where the animals fed.
But God used Mary, an unwed teenage girl, to deliver His Christmas gift on a trip in a barn. He provided in His way, in His time.
5. God grants peace when we wait on Him
"But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19).
Mary had just experienced unexpected excitement, what with the shepherds rushing in and out, telling everyone about her baby. Not only was she processing, but she was probably experiencing protective, maternal instincts.
She recalled the angel’s words to her. “Blessed are you among women”, “Son of God”, and “Nothing shall be impossible with God” were now fulfilled. This was really happening, and she needed time to catch up to the ramifications for her son; her family.
When we pause to reflect, we allow the Spirit to speak. We can reflect on the wonder of our personal God; God of the impossible.
6. God is in control of leadership and world events
"When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born" (Matthew 2:3-4).
Herod was jealous, and God knew it; in fact, God allowed the wise men to go straight to this pompous king in search of the Real King. Why? God, the Creator, set that star in the sky, pointing the wise men to Bethlehem. But then—nothing. No directions. They had lost sight of the star.
“Surely the king would know! He could tell them where the child-king was!” So they thought. Instead, he sought to find the child and destroy him.
In every twist and turn of the story surrounding Christ’s birth, God’s hand overrules. Our God, who made the earth, sky, and stars, had a plan.
Our world is in much the same, chaotic state as back in Herod’s day; we worry about the future. It’s hard, trusting a God we cannot see, while perplexing events unfold.
But God is in control, and peace lies in resting in the Prince of Peace.
Like most Hallmark movies, this one has a happy ending—yet one with a complex meaning. Even though we are a sinful people, God regards our lowliness, desiring to forgive and shepherd us through life.
As the shepherds returned to the sheep-dotted hillside, they carried with them a joy they’d never known. The wise men experienced God’s sovereignty in directing them safely home. Our personal God used each character in the story to reveal these hidden truths. But if we’re not careful—we’ll miss them.
We can rest and reflect like Mary, assured that God knows our story, and that He has a plan. We can’t explain it all, but we know the One Who guided the star. And the happy ending? He came to bring us inner peace, no matter our circumstances.
Ruthie Gray is a wife, Gigi, and mom of four (who lived to tell about it). Ruthie’s passion is mentoring moms to capture joy, providing weekly parenting advice through humor and practical application of Scripture at Ruthie Gray.Mom. Ruthie is co-contributor of the mom app, Daily TruthBytes4Moms, the author of Stepping Stones; 8 Mindsets for the mom who thinks she’s failing at motherhood, and Count to Nine; 9 Liberating Steps for Mom Frustration and Anger. Click to download her Wife and Mommy Survival Kit here.
This article is part of our larger Christmas and Advent resource library centered around the events leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ. We hope these articles help you understand the meaning and story behind important Christian holidays and dates and encourage you as you take time to reflect on all that God has done for us through his son Jesus Christ!
What is Christmas? Understanding History, Origin and Traditions
Christmas Eve History and Traditions
The History of Santa Claus: Origin of St. Nicholas & Christmas Traditions
When Was Jesus Born? History of December 25th
The Birth of Jesus: Bible Story and Scripture Verses
What is Advent: Definition & Meaning Behind Christmas Tradition
Advent Wreath & Candles - Understanding the History, Meaning, and Tradition
The History and Meaning of the Advent Calendar
What Are Advent Readings & Why Are They Important?
Christmas Bible Verses & Scripture Story
Angels of Christmas - Bible Story
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/mastapiece