This year’s Christmas season has not been like previous years for me. The past few weeks I’ve been more like the Grinch and Scrooge before their turnarounds than after the light dawned on them. Yesterday and today, however, it’s been getting better and I’m finally there.

I’ve been listening to Christmas music on the radio as I drive and rereading both the traditional Christmas passages in Matthew and Luke as well as what I call non-traditional Christmas verses.

It was attending our Christmas Eve service a couple of hours ago that put me over the top. I was reminded of all the similar services I led the past 30 plus years. There’s nothing like children reading the Christmas story, singing the carols, enjoying special music, and lighting candles to get into the Christmas spirit.

All along during the past few weeks I’ve been rereading a book entitled The First Days of Jesus written by Andreas Kostenberger and Alexander Stewart. One thing they said that rang my Christmas bell the most was this: “He [Jesus] wasn’t born like a king; he didn’t live like a king; and he certainly didn’t die like a king. He was nonetheless God’s promised and long-waited King” (p. 142).

I’m excited about tonight and looking forward to tomorrow. I hope you are enjoying the Christmas spirit and have a Merry Christmas. (By the way, the picture above is not of our living room!)

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In this third and final post about what I call “non-traditional” Christmas verses I want to underscore three more in which Jesus himself clarifies why he came.

The first is in the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus corrects a misunderstanding about his coming:  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). Rather than doing away with the Old Testament, Jesus was completing it. His coming was the fulfillment of prophecy, his teaching (especially in the Sermon on the Mount) was “filling full” God’s prescriptions for his people, and his eventual crucifixion provided atonement for disobedience and sin.

The second of these statements in which Jesus speaks about the reason for his coming is in Matthew 20:28, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” In an exchange with his disciples Jesus made it clear that the purpose of his coming was not to be served, but to serve by providing the ultimate service through his death on our behalf.

The third is John 10:10b when Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd and contrasts the purpose of his coming with those who had come before him. Calling them thieves and robbers, he proclaims, “I have come that they [his sheep] may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus’ coming and service was to give his followers life – not just life, but a totally different quality of life.

By highlighting these non-traditional Christmas verses I am not suggesting we should neglect the traditional passages in Matthew and Luke about Mary’s conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit, Gabriel’s assurance to both Mary and Joseph, their trip to Bethlehem, Jesus’ birth and the manger, the angels and shepherds, or Herod and the Magi.

As I do every year, this month I have spent time in both Mathew’s and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ birth. These accounts are the heart of our Christmas celebration and always will be. However, these three non-traditional verses, and the context in which they are given, can also add to our focus on Jesus’ coming as a baby and why he came.

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In last week’s post I introduced three Bible verses that I call non-traditional Christmas verses. Even though they do not speak directly to The Christmas Story, they clearly relate to Christmas. All three remind me of Christmas. You can read or reread that post here: In this post I want to underscore two more non-traditional verses that come from John’s Gospel.

Only two of the four gospels record details of The Christmas Story – Matthew and Luke. And although both tell the story, they give us different details of what happened. In terms of the miraculous conception, Matthew tells us primarily about Joseph and Luke tells us primarily about Mary. Luke records information about the trip to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus, the angels, and the shepherds. Matthew records information about King Herod, the Wise Men, and going to Egypt.

Mark, the shortest of the gospels, says nothing about the birth of Jesus, but begins his account with John the Baptist, Jesus’ baptism, and the launch of his public ministry.

John’s account is the most unique of the four. He doesn’t include The Christmas Story as such, but begins similarly with the book of Genesis talking about the beginning. In the opening verse of chapter one John uses the term Word to refer to Jesus as being present with God from the beginning. In verses 2-13 he says much more about the Word.

Verse 14 is one of John’s two Christmas verses as he declares, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 says a lot about Jesus referring to his birth, who he was, and where he came from. Jesus was both fully divine and fully human, both at the same time.

John’s second Christmas verse is arguably the most famous verse in the entire Bible. Following his account of an exchange between Nicodemus and Jesus in John 3:1-15, in verse 16 John declares, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” As authors Kostenberger and Stewart note, “God loved the world not because it was so worthy and deserving of his love, but because it was so needy and desperate for it” (The First Days of Jesus, p.190). It wasn’t the Wise Men who began the tradition of giving for Christmas!

As I do every year, I am spending time this month reflecting on both Matthew and Luke’s accounts of The Christmas Story. You are probably revisiting them too. Perhaps these two simple but profound verses from John’s Gospel will add something to our focus this year on Jesus’ birth and God’s gift.

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Image by Jonathan Fahrny from Pixabay


During these weeks leading up to Christmas most of us are hearing and/or reading the traditional passages of Matthew and Luke about Zechariah and Elisabeth, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and angels, and the wise men. Even though we know the passages, we are still glad to hear and consider them again as we celebrate the occasion.

There are also a number of verses in the New Testament that relate to Christmas that are non-traditional in our Christmas focus. In this post I want to highlight three of them and in the next two weeks underscore five more. None of them will replace what we have in Matthew and Luke or familiar Old Testament prophecies, but each of these less noted references can add to our Christmas celebration.

The first non-traditional Christmas passage is Galatians 4:4 and 5. Paul writes, “. . . when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption . . .” (NIV). That clearly summarizes the Christmas message, doesn’t it? I won’t elaborate on what Paul writes, but I encourage you to reflect on each phrase.

A second non-traditional Christmas verse that always reminds me of Christmas is also from the Apostle Paul. He writes in II Corinthians 8:9, “. . . you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” NIV). That’s a condensed, but clear statement about what Jesus did for us, isn’t it? Again, take some time to unpack Paul’s creative Christmas explanation.

The third and final verse in this post is much different from the first two; but to me it is especially appropriate for Christmas. In Acts 20:35 Luke records Paul citing a teaching from Jesus not included in any of the Gospels, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ ” (NIV).

The reason I think Acts 20:35 is a Christmas verse is because giving and receiving is such a large part of our Christmas celebration. Note that Jesus did not say there is no blessing in receiving, but the blessing of giving is greater. We all have been greatly blessed through receiving; not just at Christmas, but throughout our lives. Hopefully we all also have been even more blessed through our giving. It’s not an either/or, but a both/and.

This year as we revisit the beautiful Christmas passages that mean so much to us let’s allow them to warm and fill our hearts as they do each year. Perhaps we also can ponder these three non-traditional verses that I believe can also mean much to us and fill and warm our hearts during this season.

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Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay