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: https://bobmmink.com/2019/12/11/non-traditional-christmas-verses/. 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