Rev. David Latimer, of First Derry Presbyterian Church, says Christmas is more than a winter’s tale of a baby born in a stable - it is, he insists, the story of our redemption.
At first glance, Jesus appears to be a strange choice. To begin, He was born into an ordinary home in an obscure town in a remote part of one of the world’s smallest countries.
For the best part of thirty years almost nothing He did or said seemed to attract much attention and, to crown it, three years later He was dead!
Notwithstanding, millions of people all over the world would currently concur with British novelist HG Wells who said, ‘nobody could write a history of the human race without giving Jesus Christ first and foremost place.’
Maybe this is overstating it? But, maybe, it isn’t?
Consider, for instance, that He never wrote a book and, yet, more books have been written about Him than any other person. He never painted a picture, composed any poetry or wrote any music and, yet, nobody’s life and teaching has inspired a greater number of films, songs, plays and poetry.
He never raised an army or led a rebellion and, yet, multitudes have laid down their lives in defence of His cause. He had no formal education and, yet, thousands of universities, colleges and schools have been founded in His name.
His public life lasted just three years and was restricted to a few parts of one small country and, yet, some of the world’s largest TV and radio stations transmit His teachings around the globe.
All of this nearly makes you think there is nobody in history like this man who re-set the clocks of history when He was born at Bethlehem.
Famous French artist Paul Gustav Dore once lost his passport while he was abroad. When he later tried to explain to immigration officials that he was Dore, one of them gave him a pencil and some paper and said – “prove it.” A short while later Dore’s brilliant sketch left no one in doubt over his identity.
While the focus of most people at this time of year is understandably ‘the baby,’ Christmas, it has to be appreciated, is not just about a baby. Primarily, Christmas is the story of the person the baby became.
The sweet little toddler wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger grew up to become ‘the man’ who carried a cross to the top of a hill outside Jerusalem. There has never been and never will be anyone quite like Jesus. He towers head and shoulders above every other person who has ever lived.
Christmas is more than a winter’s tale of a baby born long ago at a stable in Bethlehem. It’s the story of our redemption and the world’s redemption by a God who ‘so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’