Grace Bible Church
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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
December 19, 2010
“Tis No Myth”
Sometime ago I had an interesting call from a reporter from the Poughkeepsie Journal. She asked a lot of good questions and we had a nice little chat. One line of questions she had was very thought provoking. She wanted to know why people would come to this particular church. What made us different from other churches? I thought about that for a minute since there are multiple reasons people come here and several things that make us different from other churches. As I thought about it then, and even more since then, my conclusion is that the major difference between this church and so many of other churches is that we actually believe the Bible to be the Word of God. We are set apart from many other groups that claim to be Christians simply because we believe the Scriptures to be true and not myth.
I find this to be a very sad state since many denominations and many churches that at one time did stand solidly upon the Scriptures no longer do so. They have bought the lies of the modern skeptics, philosophers and pseudo-scientists and claim the Bible to be full of myths. Their premise is that everything can be explained by some natural cause, and those things that cannot are simply mythological. They deny the creation account in Genesis, that God talked to Moses from a burning bush that was not consumed, the plagues that came upon Egypt in Exodus, the Sun standing still in Joshua, the miracles of Elijah and Elisha and even the miracles of Jesus. Since they do not believe these things, neither do they believe the promises of the Bible such as being justified by faith in the Lord Jesus to receive forgiveness of sin, adoption into God’s family, the Lord’s return, the millennial kingdom, the destruction of this present earth followed by the creation of a new earth and new heaven where we will dwell with God eternally.
Such “churches,” and I use that term loosely, hold to a form of godliness, but they deny the power of God (2 Timothy 3:5). They will still teach some of the moral principles of the Bible if they happen to match their own, but they deny the power of God to do what He has said He has done or intervene in the world of men.
Here at Grace Bible Church we are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We do not deny the power of God to do things just as He has said He has done them or to keep His promises. We are not shy to say that the Bible is true. It is not a myth.
Now why bring up this subject as the start of a Christmas message? I have two related reasons. The first is that there are now so many mythological stories told during the Christmas season that the true story becomes endangered of being thought a myth as well. Second, the story of Christmas as recorded in Matthew and Luke is true, but the manger scene has been so romanticized that the reality of what occurred can be lost in the mythology that now surrounds it.
Let me expand on both of these and in separating fact from fiction bring out the truth of what occurred on that Winter night over 2,000 years ago.
Christmas Myths and Traditions
I am aware that in pointing out some of the various cultural myths that surround the way in which our society celebrates Christmas that I might be at risk of being called a “Scrooge” of some sort. If someone does think of me that way, well, “Bah, Humbug.” I am much more concerned about what God thinks than what other people think and I hope you are too.
Now before I go any father and you do think I might be some sort of Christmas Scrooge, let me assure you that there are many fine and wonderful Christmas traditions common in our culture and many others in other cultures that would be good to adopt. For example, in the Slavic countries, some practice a tradition of having the children sleep on a bed of straw and hay on Christmas Eve as a way to identify Christ’s humble birth. I like that.
Even some of the traditions that have their origin in pagan ritual can be fine to practice since the symbolism of that practice has been changed. For example, the Christmas tree apparently has an origin with the German druids that worshiped at a sacred oak. Tradition holds that about 700 A.D., a Christian missionary named Boniface cut down that oak and told them to worship Christ. A fir tree grew where the oak had stood and Boniface told them it was a tree of peace. By the time of Martin Luther, Christmas trees were decorated with apples and Luther is credited with using candles to decorate it. Prince Albert brought the practice to Victorian England in 1841, and from there it came to America and became an icon of the season. The coming of Christianity changed the meaning of the symbol. For most people now it is simply a festive decoration. Others note that evergreens symbolize the idea of eternal life. Additional meanings are added by various decorations – God providing sustenance (popcorn), joy (reminders of happy occasions), sweetness in life (candy), light to the world (lights). Some have even pointed out that it is because Jesus died on a cross – a tree (Galatians 3:13) – that there is hope for eternal life for mankind – symbolized by the evergreen.
Many other Christmas traditions can have wonderful meanings in their symbolism, though most people are unaware of those meanings. For example, I was intrigued to find out the origin of hanging mistletoe. Being trained in agriculture I know that mistletoe is a parasitic plant that sucks the life out of its host, which does not seem to be a very good symbol to me. The ancient Celts considered it to be sacred with miraculous powers and so would place sprigs of it in their homes. However, the Romans & Scandinavians considered mistletoe to be a symbol of peace. Enemies who met under it were supposed to discard their weapons and kiss in friendship. A practice that continues in the present, though people usually try to get someone they like under it so they can kiss them.
Evergreens symbolized eternal life and cuttings from pine, fir or spruce would commonly be spread around. Holly is another evergreen that would be used for decoration, and especially so because it has pretty red berries on it in December. Since the holly leaves are thorny, it also became a symbol of the crown of thorns Jesus wore during the mocking prior to His crucifixion, and so they would be fashioned into wreaths. The red berries became symbolic of the drops of blood He shed.
Some people take great issue with anything that has its origin in a previous pagan custom. If so, God bless them, Romans 14:23 tells us that whatever is not from faith is sin, so it is best that they refrain from using any of these traditions in their own celebration of Christmas. However, while care always must be taken that we do not communicate something we do not intend, the meaning of a symbol or a tradition is what you make it. I find it reflective of God’s redemptive power that so many symbols that were once pagan are now filled with new meaning celebrating what God has done. The Psalms often used pagan symbolism and poetic form and changed them to glorify the true God. Jesus Himself took many of the symbolic elements of Judaism and gave them new meaning such as the elements in Passover. This same thing is true with many Christmas traditions with those just mentioned as examples. There are also a lot of Christmas traditions that have greater meaning when we know their origin and symbolism.
For example, the candy cane is now used simply as a decoration of the season. Even secularists are not squeamish about passing them out though the ACLU would sue to stop it at government functions if they knew the symbolism. The candy cane was designed by a Christian candy maker in Indiana to be a witness of Christ. The white candy symbolizes the Virgin birth and the sinlessness of Jesus. It is made out of hard candy to represent Jesus as the Solid Rock, the foundation of the church and the firmness of God’s promises. It is shaped into a “J” to stand for “Jesus” as well as to represent the staff of the “Good Shepherd” with which He reaches down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray. The red stripes on the candy cane are not arbitrary. The three small red stripes symbolize the scourging Jesus received and the wide red stripe represents the blood Jesus shed on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.
Many other Christmas traditions actually have some wonderful meanings if they are brought to light. I am not concerned about traditions such as these at all and would only hope that the deeper meaning would be brought out. We give gifts to one another as a reflection of the greatest gift of all given to us by God in His Son, Jesus Christ. We light candles and string lights in proclamation and praise that the light of the world, Jesus Christ, has come. Christmas cards are sent as joyous greetings and to wish others well for a “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You” – reported to be the first printed message on a Christmas card in 1843 created by John Calcott Horsley.
Concerns about Christmas Traditions and Myths
I only have two real concerns regarding modern Christmas traditions. The first is the commercialization which has sucked much of the joy out of the holidays by making gift giving obligatory and promoting the idea that happiness is dependent on materialistic abundance and trying to provide some story book ideal. This has become very widespread. This time of year I get phone calls from people wanting to know if the church can provide funds for presents so their children can “have Christmas.” I let them know we have a food pantry if they are in need, but they are not interested. They want money for presents because for them, Christmas is about toys for kids.
A few years ago when Christmas Day fell on a Sunday, this church was one of the few in the area that held worship services. The common reasoning was that they did not want church to interfere with the celebrating of Christmas, or as one pastor put it, “what would the kids think?” Well, perhaps they might get the idea that Christmas is actually not about gifts, a special meal, family & friends and having a good time but rather about the worship of God for the greatest gift ever given, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas will be on Sunday next year and I already wonder how many professing Christians will bother to come join together in worship of Jesus? I fear the trend will continue that even among Christians Jesus will be an after-thought.
My second area of concern are the runaway myths that tend to cover up the meaning of Christmas. The most intrusive runaway myth, of course, is Santa Claus. Now please do not get me wrong. I do not mind Santa Claus as an expanding jolly mythological story, but I am greatly bothered when he and his magical powers along with his entourage of flying reindeer, elves and living snowmen are presented as the primary figures of the Christmas season. All of us are aware of how central these figures have become in Christmas decorations, cards and songs. We are also aware that some school districts have substituted “Winter Break” for “Christmas Holidays,” and their School programs allow any symbol and song of the season except those that proclaim the birth of Jesus Christ.
Santa Claus certainly did not start out as what he has become. He was first patterned after Nicholas, Bishop of Lycia, in Asia Minor who lived in the 4th century. He was a kind and generous man who went out at night to distribute gifts to the needy. By 1100 the medieval church had designated him as a saint, the patron of children. German legend added the idea that he brought gifts only to good children. The Dutch, who called him, Sinterklaas, would have a man represent him by dressing in a fur suit and distribute gifts to children while being pulled in a sleigh. It was the Dutch who brought the idea of “Sinterklaas,” in English transliterated as Santa Claus, to America. In 1809 Washington Irving, using the pen name “Diedrich Knickerbocker,” wrote “A History of New-York” which described the customs of the Dutch settlers in New York and spread the idea of Santa Claus. The 1822 poem by Clement Moore, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” but better known as “Twas The Night Before Christmas,” added many of the ideas now associated with him including flying reindeer pulling a sleigh. Thomas Nast’s illustrations of him in Harper’s Weekly magazine in the early 1860’s gave him the plump body and red suit. There was not much resemblance to the Bishop of Lycia left.
Again, I don’t have a problem with Santa Claus as a myth as long as he remains such and stays in the background to my family’s celebration of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Our celebration on Christmas day includes a birthday cake for Jesus, but the red clad fellow is not to be seen. Now I have been criticized for this, but my children have been better off for it and I want to tell you why and possibly challenge your thinking because there are some very important issues at stake.
First, let me qualify what I am going to say by telling you that my children, who are now adults, grew up knowing that various Santa Claus stories. They saw many of the cartoons and movies that have him as a central character and enjoyed them, along with mom and dad, but they never “believed” in him. Santa and all the other characters were simply a fun story that is not true. They enjoyed it like they did many other fictional stories. They did not miss out on any of the “fun,” nor were they social misfits (though they did tend to tell shopping mall Santas about the historical Saint Nicholas when grandma would take them to one).
The first issue I am bringing up may seem minor at first, but there are serious ramifications to it. Teaching a child to believe in Santa and then to be good so that he will bring them presents promotes a bribe and distorts the reason for giving gifts. Diane and I raised our sons to be good because it pleases God, not because they will earn a reward for it. More importantly, we did not want anything to distort the truth that God gave His Son for us because He choose to love us, not because we were good and deserved it. God demonstrated His love for us in that Jesus became a man and died in our place while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). We give gifts as a reflection of God giving a gift to us. We give because we choose to love, not because the recipient deserves it.
Second, I wanted my children to grow up knowing that they could trust me. I wanted them to believe what I told them, and so I did not want to be caught perpetrating a lie to them. When I tell a fictional story, I need to make sure that it is known from the start that the events and characters in the story are not true, but make-believe. If I had allowed the Santa Claus story to be anything more than a myth, then I would have been forced into a position of having to present falsehoods as truth to my children, and that would be lying to them. Lying may be a common characteristic of mankind as those walking with the devil, but honesty is to be the characteristic of those walking with God. Lying is one of the many sinful behaviors we are to set aside as those who have been raised up with Christ (Colossians 3:1-9).
Third, and most importantly, is that I did not want to endanger in anyway my son’s belief in the stories of the Bible. This is related to my second point but has a greater ramification. If I did not make a clear distinction between what is true and what is not, how would my children have believed me as they got older and started questioning what the Bible says? If I have presented myths as truth to them while young, would they not wonder if I had been doing the same thing when I was telling them about God, Jesus and salvation?
Christian writer Jerry Jenkins’ column in Moody Magazine some years ago illustrated this point. Jerry had grown up believing in Santa Claus. When he got to be about 7 he says, “the evidence was too great to ignore. When I put the question to my dad, he said, ‘You don’t honestly still believe in Santa Claus, do you?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, and argued the point for a while, profoundly disappointed. I was too young at the time to articulate my greater fear – that I would soon hear that the Jesus story wasn’t true either.”
The Protestant Reformation re-emphasized the worship of Jesus rather than saints, so instead of Saint Nicholas getting attention it was Christ. At Christmas time Jesus was referred to in Germany as “Christkindli (Christ child) which later degenerated into “Kris Kringle.” Popular culture and marketing has moved the emphasis away from Jesus and to a myth. That in itself is a shame, but even so you can keep the proper emphasis on Christ and also enjoy Santa Claus and company as long as you are clear that Jesus is true and Santa is myth. That way you will not break the trust your children have in you and endanger the truth you tell them about Jesus. Santa is fiction, but Jesus “tis no myth.”
The Scene at the Manger
A second danger to the true story of Christmas is the romanticized manger scene. We are all familiar with creche scenes. The stable is neat and tidy with everyone – Joseph and Mary, shepherds, angels, three wise men from the east, all sorts of animals – all are gathered around the baby Jesus lying quietly and comfortably in a manger. The romanticized version makes it all seem like such a wonderful place to be. In addition, Jesus is left as a baby which makes Him endearing and non-threatening even to the unsaved. Let’s go back and look at this scene according to the Scriptures.
First, in Luke 2 we find that Joseph and Mary have just arrived in Bethlehem, Joseph’s ancestral home. They have traveled from Nazareth, some 70 miles north in Galilee. Seventy miles is not a great distance to travel today for some of you travel farther than that in your daily commute to work. But 70 miles was a long journey in that time and required many days travel by foot or riding on the back of an animal. People often traveled in caravans to lessen the danger from robbers and wild animals, but they were still exposed to the weather and the Fall and Winter are the rainy season in Israel. In addition, Mary was in her last trimester of pregnancy, possibly even the eighth or ninth month. This was not a trip they wanted to make, but one the Roman government had required them to make (Luke 2:1).
When they arrive they find out there is no room in any house for them to stay in. They finally secure a stable. This is not a barn like we have here, but more likely a cave in the side of one of the limestone hills. We are not told if they were in this stable alone, with other families or having to be side by side with the animals. Even in the best scenario this is not a situation any of you ladies here would want to be in at any time much less when you are near the end of your pregnancy. This was not a birthing center like exists now at many hospitals to give you a more relaxing atmosphere as well as state of the art medical help. This was not even the bedroom of her own home. And while I am sure they cleaned it out the best they could, it was not ideal, but it is where Mary gave birth to Jesus. The only place they had to lay their newborn son was a feeding trough filled with hay. There is nothing romantic about this scene. It is one of privation and hardship.
Yet it is the scene God directed as a demonstration of His son’s humility. Philippians 2:6-8 tells us that though Jesus “existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Jesus’ birth in a stable was in keeping with his humble nature.
The scene now shifts in Luke 2:10-14 to shepherds who are watching their flocks in the fields. It was to these lowly shepherds that an angel broke the good news “of a great joy which shall be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” The shepherds then went to see the baby and they told Joseph and Mary all that they had seen and heard. They left and went back to their sheep glorifying and praising God.
The story continues in Luke 2:21-38. When Jesus was eight days old He was circumcised according to Jewish law, and then when Mary’s days of purification were over, they all went to Jerusalem to offer the required sacrifice. When they arrived, they met Simeon who had been told by the Lord that he would not die until after he had seen the promised Messiah. When Simeon saw Jesus he took Him in his arms and said, “Now Lord, Thou dost let Thy bond-servant depart In peace, according to Thy word; 30 For my eyes have seen Thy salvation, 31 Which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 A light of revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Thy people Israel.”
Joseph and Mary were amazed at this, and Simeon continued and blessed them, and said to Mary, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed– 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul– to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” At this point Anna the prophetess comes and also begins to give thanks to God.
The scene now shifts to Matthew 2 and the wise men from the East arriving in Jerusalem to inquire of Herod, “Where is He who is born King of the Jews? We do not know their names or how many wise men there were. The popular notion of there being three came about because when they finally found Jesus and Mary in Bethlehem they gave three gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh – representative gifts of Jesus’ kingship, priesthood and the death He would die on behalf of man.
The wise men arrived quite sometime after the birth of Jesus. When the Magi arrive, Mary is with Jesus in a house – not a stable, and Jesus is referred to with the word that means small child, not the word which means infant. Some scholar’s put it as much as two years later since Herod slaughtered all the children in Bethlehem two years and younger because that was the time he had ascertained from the Magi, and he did not want to leave any possible rival to his throne alive.
Does all this mean we should throw away our creche displays? No, we just need to remember to that it is symbolic of true events, not the truth itself. In the same way we need to remember that the adoration of those present was for Jesus and the hope He brought for the salvation of mankind from sin. The manger scene is nothing to be romanticized, but it is a reminder of the nature of Christ’s coming.
The Consequences of the Story
The story of the coming of Jesus as recorded in the Bible is not mythological, it is true, and it is encompasses much more than the manger scene. It brings about many ramifications to man, the greatest of which is that man is made responsible to God.
If the Christmas story was a myth, then men would be free to romanticize it and make it mean anything they wanted. There are plenty of people that do exactly that. They treat Jesus the same way they treat Santa Claus – though they never use Santa’s name to curse.
However, the story is true and is the culmination of a multitude of Hebrew prophecies perfectly fulfilled in Jesus demonstrating He is the promised Messiah, the Christ. In Jesus birth and the events surrounding it alone there are no less than 11 specific prophecies. Everything from His lineage as being not only a descendent of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 49:10), but being heir to the throne of David as well (Isaiah 9:7). Matthew 1:23 cites His birth from a virgin as the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 which actually traces back to Genesis 3:15 and the promised “seed of a woman.” This is the only time the Hebrew term for seed is used in reference to a woman. The place of His birth (Micah 5:2) and the timing of His birth were also prophesied (Daniel 9:25); as were the flight to Egypt (Hosea 11:1 cf. Matthew 2:14-15) and the slaughter of the children (Jeremiah 31:15 cf. Matthew 2:16-18). God speaks the truth and His promises are sure, both those of blessing to those who believe and of eternal punishment for those who do not.
Because Jesus in the manger was not just a baby, but God in human flesh, then God has intervened into the affairs of men and has demonstrated His loving concern for us. That is the whole reason that the Christmas season is to be joyful. It is the celebration that the savior had been born. Mankind had been given a sure promise of hope. The sin problem would be taken care of by God Himself for Jesus did not stay a baby but grew up and lived a sinless life, then willingly died on the cross in our place to pay the penalty of our sin. He was then raised from the dead on the third day and is now at the right hand of God the Father, and we await His return. His return is made sure by His coming in the first place and His resurrection from the dead. Jesus will keep His promises for He is both faithful and powerful enough to do so. He will take His own to Himself to dwell with Him forever, but He will judge the wicked. Are you ready?
Enjoy the traditions that surround this joyous season, but do not let the myths and customs crowd out Jesus. Make sure that the focus of your celebration of Christmas is Jesus Christ. Isn’t it His birthday that is being remembered and celebrated? You might even want to do some research and find out the origin and meaning of the traditions you practice and use them as a means to proclaim Christ to others.
Ring the bells, ring the bells, Let the whole world know. Christ was born in Bethlehem, many years ago: Born to die that man might live, Came to earth new life to give, Born of Mary, born so low, many years ago. God the Father gave His son, Gave His own beloved One, To this wicked, sinful earth, To bring mankind His love, new birth. Ring the bells, ring the bells, Let the whole world know. Christ the Savior lives today As He did so long ago! Tis’ no myth – it’s the truth. Let’s proclaim it, celebrate it, and live according to it.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help.
Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2) Count how man times the word “myth” is used. Talk with your parents about the meaning of the Christmas traditions of your family.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Why have so many churches stopped teaching the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God? Explain the origin of the following traditions and how they have been changed to have a good meaning / symbolism: The Christmas tree; mistletoe; evergreens, holly wreaths. What is the origin and meaning of each of these Christmas traditions: The Candy Cane; candles / strings of lights; Christmas carols; Christmas cards; gifts. What effect has commercialization had on the celebration of Christmas? Should a church cancel its worship services if Christmas falls on a Sunday? Why or why not? What effect has the mythology of Santa Claus had on the celebration of Christmas? What is historical origin of Santa Claus? How did the mythology of Santa Claus develop? What is the danger of teaching young children that Santa Claus will bring them presents if they are good? What danger do you pose to your children’s ability to trust you if you teach them to “believe” in Santa Claus. What danger does the mythology of Santa Claus pose to the truth of the story of Jesus’ birth and the gospel? Is it possible to overcome these dangers and enjoy Santa Claus mythology? If so, how? If not, why not? Study Luke 1 & 2 and answer the following questions. How far did Joseph and Mary have to travel to get to Bethlehem? How long might it have taken? Why did they go there? How far along was Mary in her pregnancy? What would a stable have been like in that area and time period? What is a manger? Why is it a fitting place for Jesus to be born? What happened when Jesus was 8 days old and why? Why did they go to the Temple and what happened when they got there? Read Matthew 2 and answer the following questions: Who were the Magi? Where did they come from? Why did they go to Jerusalem? Where did they find Jesus in Bethlehem? How long after Jesus’ birth might they have arrived? What prophecies were fulfilled at Jesus’ birth? What effect does your belief about the story of Jesus’ birth have on your belief in His death, resurrection and promise to return? Are you ready for Jesus to return? How will you celebrate Christmas?
Tis’ No Myth – Selected Scriptures
What makes Grace Bible Church different? We believe the Bible to be God’s word & _____, not a myth
Those denying the miracles of the Bible also deny its __________________
Christmas season mythologies endanger the __________story of Christmas as recorded in the Scriptures
Christmas Myths and Traditions
There are many fine and wonderful Christmas ____________________ that would be good to adopt.
Even traditions originating in pagan practices can / have been changed to _______________ the truth
The Christmas tree – Evergreen = __________life. Decorations vary. Jesus died on a tree giving us hope
Mistletoe – a Roman symbol of _________- Enemies dropped their weapons and kissed in peace under it
Holly – a wreath of evergreen – thorns symbolized Jesus’ crown of thorns; red berries His __________.
Romans 14:23 – if you do not have faith to participate, it is _________ to you and you must refrain
God _______________ even symbols to make them reflective of Himself
The Candy Cane – created by an Indiana candy make to reflect ___________ life, nature and death
Gifts are given as a reflection of God’s gift to us – _____________
Christmas cards are sent as joyous _____________ and to wish well to others
Concerns about Christmas Traditions and Myths
_________________removes the joy by making gifts obligatory and happiness dependent on materialism
Even evangelical churches have _________their worship services so people could celebrate “Christmas”
Runaway _____________ tend to cover up the meaning of Christmas
Santa Claus was first patterned after ______________, Bishop of Lycia, in Asia Minor (4th century)
The tradition of the Dutch “__________________” was brought to America and modified in the 1800’s
Washington Irving – 1809 Clement Moore – 1822 Thomas Nast – 1860’s
Qualification – Santa as a myth can be ______________ without harm
Danger 1 – _____________a child to be good. God loved us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8)
Danger 2 – Damaging your children’s ability to _____________ you to tell the truth
Danger 3 – Confusing truth and myth leading to ______________about the truth of the story of Jesus
Keep the proper emphasis on _____, but enjoy Christmas myths – as long as they are presented as fiction
The Scene at the Manger
The manger scene has been romanticized into a ________________ place to be – and unthreatening.
Luke 2 – Joseph & Mary have traveled __________ miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem
The only place they can find to stay is a __________, and Mary is near her time to give birth
The newborn Jesus is wrapped in cloths and laid in a feeding ____________ filled with hay
Philippians 2:6-8 – The reality of the scene is fitting with Jesus’ _____________
Luke 2:10-14 – The angels announce the birth to _______________, who go to see the Lord
Luke 2:21-38 – Jesus is circumcised, then presented at the ___________where Simeon & Anna see Him.
Matthew 2 – An unknown number of ___________from the East arrive in Jerusalem bringing three gifts
A Christmas creche symbolizes the broader story, not an actual ___________ itself
The Consequences of the Story
If the Christmas story were simply a myth, men could romanticize it as they liked and ___________God
Jesus’ birth fulfills at least 11 Hebrew prophecies including: His ________________;
Being born of a virgin – “seed of a woman”; Place of birth; Time of birth;
God became a ___________and intervened into the affairs of men – there is hope of salvation from sin
Jesus did not stay a _______- He grew up, lived a sinless life, died as sin sacrifice, & rose from the dead
He will ___________ for His own, but He will judge the wicked.
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