Christmas story reveals contrasts to compare

The Christmas story of the birth of Jesus Christ is full of interesting contrasts. From the beginning, these contrasts include doubt and acceptance, fear and trust, and rich and poor.

Contrast: doubt and acceptance

At my house, we always start the Christmas story with Zechariah and Elizabeth, a couple upright in the sight of God, who observed all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly (Luke1:6). Yet despite their love for God, they remained childless. God’s plan and purpose for their lives—their greatest joy—was about to occur, but they did not realize it. They busied themselves with their daily tasks. The angel Gabriel visited Zechariah while he was serving as priest in the temple and told him his wife would bear him a son. Because Zechariah questioned Gabriel, he was struck dumb.

Elizabeth was six months pregnant when Gabriel visited her relative, Mary. Mary’s response to the angel telling her she would bear God’s son was to ask how this could be and say, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).

Zechariah wanted further details and answers, but Mary simply accepted what the angel said. She just believed. Don’t you find her faith incredible? I wish I could be more like Mary, but I think I’m more like Zechariah. Questions arise and cause me to fret, to agonize, and to over-analyze the situation rather than accept it. Life could be less stressful and happier by just trusting God who has my best interests at heart and who knows my wants, needs, and dreams.

In Matthew 1:18-24, we learn about Joseph, whom Mary was pledged to marry. As Joseph anticipated his wedding day, he learned shocking news—his fiancé was pregnant. He decided to divorce her quietly so she wouldn’t be stoned. While he considered this, however, an angel visited who confirmed that Mary was pregnant with God’s Son. So Joseph trusted too.

This had to be a difficult situation for this couple. Gossiping and nasty looks must have followed them as they clung to what the angel said would happen. Then to travel a great distance because of the census and learn there was no room at the inn—how discouraging! Mary birthed the child in a dirty stable. Mothers everywhere can imagine her nerves. Having a baby is both exciting and frightening in the best of circumstances. Yet, Mary’s faith strengthened her.

Contrast: fear and trust

Now, let’s look at King Herod, who didn’t know God. Magi visited him. Herod trusted that the Magi knew what they were talking about. Because of their news and quest, Herod acted in fear and jealousy. He murdered innocent boys two years old and under in his attempt to eliminate Jesus (Matthew 2:16).

Joseph, awakened in the night by another dream, hastened to flee the country with his wife and son. No indecision pestered him. He asked no questions. He just obeyed. At once, in the middle of the night, they set out.

The Magi sought the “king of the Jews”. I imagine them as well educated, respected, wealthy men. The Magi were overjoyed to see the star. They persevered over a long journey because they sought something precious. When they saw the child and his mother, they bowed down and worshiped him and gave him gifts of gold, of incense and of myrrh. An angel warned them in a dream also to return home by a different route.

Contrast: rich and poor

Poor, uneducated, disrespected, dirty shepherds minded their flocks that night when an angel appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them. Terror changed to rejoicing. A great company of heavenly host appeared, praising God. The shepherds believed the angel. They trusted. In their joy and excitement, they shared their experience and praised and glorified God.

Faith sees miracles

Magi sought and found the treasured and precious king. They acted on faith following that star. Mary and Joseph believed the angel and endured a community’s initial scorn. God chose shepherds, neglected and forgotten by society, to share the message of the Messiah’s birth first. What an honor! And they reacted with joy and reverence and spread the good news. God still used cautious Zechariah. May we respond as they did with faith instead of with fear.

Although Herod meant evil, God prevailed. We have much to rejoice over!

I hope you’ll read the complete story of Jesus’ birth in Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1:18-2:23. May your Christmas be filled with joy and excitement as you celebrate our Savior’s birth!

Merry Christmas!

7 thoughts on “Christmas story reveals contrasts to compare

  1. Interesting view of the Christmas story, Michelle. Most of us just read the story without even thinking about the contrasts. I like it, too.

  2. Thanks for the input and ideas Michelle. I have heard so many sermons, and read so many articles, it all gets very confusing for me. EXCEPT…I know Jesus is my Savior, and I believe the Biblical account of his birth to be absolutely true, but I also think we miss a lot from that culture to our culture in understanding the facts, most of which are regarding time and conditions that are not really described in the Bible. For instance, this is a website that just came up: https://www.ucg.org/the-good-news/the-real-nativity-story-surprising-truths-you-may-not-know

    Our former pastor also preached about the *myths* we believe about Christmas because of our modern day renditions, that really are not supported in the Bible. Such as 3 wise men? Where in the bible does it say 3? It’s assumed because of the 3 gifts that were presented to Jesus. And nothing in scripture lines up with Jesus being born in December.

    It’s all good in the end…praise God…He did send his son to be born of Mary and Joseph and God was and is always in control. I hate that our *English* traditions that most of us grew up with don’t line up with that…but I know God’s got this 🙂 But for me it’s still troubling that some things that are myths are gospel for some people and that it could destroy their faith. OK…rambling. Love you!!!

    1. Thank you for sharing that article. It was very interesting and thought provoking! Yes, it is true we should stick to the Scripture for the true details. I have often wondered about how our traditions got to where they are. We try to keep the Biblical Christmas in the forefront, as well. Perhaps I should do some digging and write about where the traditions came from? Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. Merry Christmas!

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