Many believe that there are only two tellings of the Christmas story in Scripture: Luke 3, and Matthew 1-2. But there is a third telling: John chapter one.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him as life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”) And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. -John 1:1-17
I do not want to take away from the greatness of the other Christmas stories in Scripture, but this is my favorite out of the three, and it saddens me that it is often forgotten. It may not give historical details of his birth, but it says most clearly the heart of why we celebrate on Christmas.
The focus of Christmas isn’t that Jesus was once born. I have often asked people why Christmas is important and they answer is that it needed to have happened for Jesus to get to Calvary. Well, that is true, but there were a great number of things that needed to happen for that, and we don’t celebrate them all.
The reason we celebrate Christmas is the reason that John gives: The Word of God became flesh. That the light of God came to men. That the Holy God thought it good to come down to Earth and get His hands dirty with our mess. That is something worthy to celebrate.
We do not celebrate “Peace on Earth and good will towards men”, though the coming of Christ does bring that. What we are celebrating is the graciousness of God in sending His Son to the Earth. The Christmas season lasts a couple of weeks after Christmas day, so don’t set Christmas thoughts aside yet, and take time this weekend to contemplate the sending of the Son, and pain, suffering, and humiliation that endured for you and me.