Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Christmas Story is Not Just for Jews


Christmas is a Jewish story. Oh, I know — this time of year, we are used to greeting our Jewish friends with Happy Hanukkah! and our Gentile or Christian friends with Merry Christmas! However, Christmas is a Jewish story (see The Christmas Story and the Story of Israel and The Christmas Story and the Story of Deliverance).

Jesus was a Jew and He came to fulfill the story of Israel that God began with Abraham, continued on through to David and down through the generations that went into Babylonian captivity, all the way to the birth of Jesus. He is the Messiah, the Anointed King that God promised would come into the world to deliver His covenant people and through whom all God’s promises would be fulfilled.

But as much as the story of Christmas was for the sake of the Jewish people, it was also for the benefit of all the people of the earth. It is significant that Matthew begins the genealogy of Jesus with Abraham, who was not a Jew but a pagan, which is to say, a Gentile. But God chose to make a great nation through Abraham and promised that through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed.

Matthew makes an unusual move in his genealogy and refers to four women. Not the ones that might have been expected (Sarah, Rebekah, Leah and Rachel), but four others: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. They highlight four irregularities in the line of David: They were all Gentiles. Tamar and Rahab were Canaanites, Ruth was a Moabite and Matthew refers to Bathsheba as the wife of “Uriah the Hittite” (she might actually have been an Israelite, but Matthew highlights the Gentile connection of her husband). Yet, in the grace of God, they were all whirled into the humanity of Jesus,

Matthew’s account of Jesus coming into the world also includes the wise men who journeyed from the East to see the newborn King of the Jews. We do not really know who they were or where they came from. The Revelation of the Magi, an ancient eastern document written in about the third or fourth century AD, identifies them as kings from the “Great East,” mystics who prayed in silence and glorified “the holy majesty of the Lord of life.” They were most likely not Jews but Gentiles, yet they are given a place of honor in the Holy Scriptures.

Matthew begins his telling of the Gospel with significant reference to non-Jews and the roles they played in the Christmas story. At the end of the book, we see that the Gospel is just as much for them and all the rest of the nations as it is for the Jews. Before He ascended to His throne at the right hand of the Father, King Jesus commissioned His followers to take the good news into all the world.
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:18-20)
Christmas is all about the coming of the Messiah King into the world and it is very much a Jewish story. It is not just for them but for all who believe and follow Jesus.



Let Earth Receive Her King
Let Earth Receive Her King
Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom of God
by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.