Here is a book that addresses the hard questions about what really happened that first Christmas in Bethlehem. For many people Christmas is a fable or legend enjoyed by children. For others it is a secular holiday and a time for parties and family reunions. The truth is that it is a celebration of a great miracle of God. It is about the birth of one who literally had no beginning and existed from all eternity in heaven. The author shows that this unique birth was quite natural but that the conception of the baby Jesus was supernatural. God's Spirit "overshadowed" Mary and prevented her from passing any sin to the child in her womb. The birth of Christ was part of an eternal plan in the mind of God and clues concerning it are found throughout the Old Testament. Some of these are described. The author also goes on to interpret the meaning of Jesus' own words about his coming into the world.
Most of us know the familiar story about Joseph, Mary, the angels and shepherds and wisemen but what about the rest of the cast? All of the characters become real people in this book as you learn their background and the roles they play in the story.
One chapter asks, "What difference does it make?" You will learn that because Jesus came we no longer need to wonder about the character of God. We learn that He is always aware of our situation and concerned for our welfare. He knows from having lived among us what it means to be human.
God, of course, is not Santa Claus. We cannot earn or deserve God's approval. Our motivation for being good and doing good is not to get a reward but to thank Him for the undeserved gift of His love and forgiveness.
The book has a concluding chapter on "The Other Nativity." The author means that as with any gift it takes one to give and one to receive. We can receive this gift as we recognize our need of Christ, and invite him to take control of our hearts and minds. We remember the carol: "O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today." Just as we were born physically into our parents' home, God also wants to give us a second birth in His special family of believers. All this is made possible by Christ's coming that first Christmas. No wonder the apostle Paul, pondering it, said it was an "indescribable gift." (2 Cor. 9:15)