Santa Claus, Rudolph, Jack Frost, the Grinch, Ebenezer Scrooge—all of these stories have become part of our modern celebration of Christmas. But most people, even those who don’t go to church regularly, could probably tell you that none of these is the real story of Christmas. Everyone knows that the Christmas story started 2000 years ago with the birth of Jesus, right? Actually, no! The story of Christmas actually starts at the beginning of the first book of the Bible, at the very beginning of human history, in a place about as far removed from our idea of a cozy and snowy Christmas setting as possible. The story of Christmas begins in a garden.
The Garden of Eden was as close to heaven on earth as a place could possibly be. The weather was perfect, the flowers never withered, and if there were wasps, they never stung anyone. Adam and Eve didn’t have to worry about hunger or animal attacks or splinters. They were at perfect peace with each other, and God even walked with them in the garden. But something happened that plunged this perfect world into the conflict that still rages today, something that causes all the suffering on the planet. The first sin was committed. You may think of sin as breaking a rule, but as we see in the Eden story, sin is simply disbelieving God’s word and disobeying his will. From the moment Eve disbelieved and disobeyed, everything and everyone has been infected by sin. Roses have thorns. Airports need metal detectors. Cities need cemeteries. And sin has poisoned more than the world around us. Why do we do things we know we shouldn’t, and why don’t we do what we know we should? Something is wrong in our hearts.
But God never leaves a problem unsolved. In the same moment sin entered the world, God had the solution ready, and he revealed it almost immediately in a single verse holding hope for the entire world. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). The serpent would bruise the heel of this Savior, but the Savior would trample the head of the serpent. You don’t have to be a doctor to know which injury is worse—a bite to the foot or a kick to the head! Sin was to be defeated. We were to be rescued.
You may never have heard this verse referred to as the first Christmas story, but that’s exactly what it is. It’s the very first verse in the Bible to tell of a Savior who would bring us salvation from our sin. The most familiar Christmas verse in the Bible is probably Luke 2:11: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The very first word used to describe the newborn baby is “Savior” because that is what the world had been waiting for all those long years since Eve ate the fruit. Only when we understand our need for a Savior can we fully experience the celebration of his birth. So with every Christmas movie we watch, every cookie we bake, every carol we sing, and every decoration we hang, let these words echo: “I need a Savior—and he is here!”
Father God, thank you for solving the problem of our sin so we could once more walk with you. Thank you for sending us a Savior, and help us to remember our need for him every day of this Christmas season. Amen.
Celebrate the Season
Write “I need a Savior, and he is here!” on some index cards. Parents or older children can print them, and younger children can decorate them. Put these notes where you’ll find them as the Christmas season unfolds—filed with the Christmas cookie recipes, stored with the gift wrapping supplies, and tucked in the cases of your favorite Christmas CDs or DVDs. As you enjoy your favorite Christmas activities, you’ll find these reminders of the reason behind all the fun and celebration.
The above excerpt is from The 25 Days of Christmas by James Merritt.
The 25 Days of Christmas is a unique advent devotional written to help your family rejoice in discovering what the holiday is really about. This full-color, beautifully illustrated book will be a keepsake you’ll look forward to using every year.