People may think that the Christmas story has about as much historical basis as Father Christmas, Raymond Briggs’ Snowman and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. But that isn’t the case. While we don’t know the exact date on which Jesus was born, the Gospel writers are careful to lay down clear historical markers. Caesar Augustus was Roman Emperor at the time, a chap named Qurinius was governing Syria and nasty old Herod ruled in Jerusalem as king of the Jews. Jesus Christ was a real historical figure and there are references to his life and teaching outside the pages of the New Testament.
Besides, if the Gospel writers were trying to wrap Jesus in myth and legend, they went a funny way about it. Why say that as a baby he was laid in a manger, basically an animal’s feeding trough? Why record that despised shepherds were the first group of people to pay homage to the new born King? That’s a fine way to establish Jesus’ messianic credentials.
Jesus was truly born of Mary in the town of Bethlehem and grew up to be a preacher and miracle worker the like of which the word had never seen before or since. Millions people are counted as his followers today. What makes Jesus so special? Christians believe that he was the Son of God who became human to rescue human beings from sin; the wrong things that we all do. His very name ‘Jesus’ means the ‘Lord Saves’. He died on the Cross for the sins of the world. He rose again from the dead to give all who believe in him the hope of everlasting life. In the Son of God made flesh we see the mystery of God’s love for people like you and me.
God made human beings that we might enjoy him and be with him for ever. Sin messed things up, but through faith in Jesus that destiny can be restored. That is why Christmas is such a joyful season, as we remember the Saviour’s birth. In the words of the angel of the Lord to the shepherds,
I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; who is Christ, the Lord.* Christmas message for Phab Magazine.