The Christmas story… where does it begin? As a child we would read the traditional story each year on Christmas Eve, which found in Luke 2. This is where our reading begins today. We find our very pregnant Mary traveling with her husband Joseph to the city of Bethlehem where they are to be counted in the census.
I was asked by someone very dear to my heart, “What’s the Christmas story?” My answer was simple, “It’s about Jesus’ birth.”
As I ponder over my answer to her in the wee hours of the morning I began to think how that doesn’t even make sense to someone who doesn’t know the reason for Jesus coming to earth. If I could have a do-over…. which I hope she will give me… I would answer very differently.
The Christmas story began in a garden 4,000 years before Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.
The Bible begins with the words “In the beginning God…” God, the eternal being who has no beginning or end desired to have a relationship with people who could make the choice to worship Him. And so, He spoke the world into existence and time, as we perceive it, began.
Part of God’s creation was a beautiful garden in which He placed a man named Adam and a women named Eve. Adam and Eve had the distinct pleasure of living in a world free from all evil and walking each evening in the garden with God. All was calm, long ago in the lush paradise until one day…
God had placed in the garden a tree and He told Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit that grew on it. They had all the other trees and plants of the garden to enjoy and yet one day… they saw the fruit and it was desirable to them, so they took a bite.
At first bite they immediately recognized evil and that is the moment when sin entered this world. Because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience the world was cursed and evil ruled in the hearts of man. You may question “Why do bad things happen… why is there evil?” The answer was found in that garden when man first sinned against God. In Romans 5 we read that “by ONE man, Adam, sin entered the world… so, all [men] sin.”
But God, who is rich in His love for mankind, gave the perfect solution to man’s sin. In Genesis 3 He promises to send His One and Only Son into the world to take care of it… once for all. And this son was and is Jesus.
For 4,000 years God continued to remind His people that one day their Messiah, their Savior, His only Son would come to earth. And now the time has come…. Mary and Joseph are traveling to Bethlehem and Jesus will soon be born.
The Christmas story that began in a garden is beginning to unfold. Jesus, the precious promise is coming into the world.
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.