Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in December 2016.
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers… and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. – Matthew 1:1-2 & 16, ESV
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. – Luke 1:1-4, ESV
We humans love good stories. We love stories that tap into our imagination and sense of wonder and birth in us a hope that blazes like light in the darkness of our world. We love stories where heroes overcome impossible odds and seemingly invincible enemies to rescue the world. We love stories where a man is so committed to his true love that he risks death again and again to ensure her safety and win her love.
Of all our stories, the story of Jesus has proven to be one of the most popular. The story of God loving the world He made so much that He would leave heaven and come to earth to rescue it from darkness has kindled more hope in the hearts of more people than any other story. The story of the heavenly king who comes into the darkness of death in order to rescue His bride from the clutches of the enemy has stirred love and longing for millions upon millions of people over thousands of years.
The story of Jesus resonates so deeply with the heart of humanity and echoes the themes of so many classic human myths. These mythological echoes which ring out in the story of Jesus have caused many to classify Jesus as a myth. But both Matthew and Luke open their Gospels by firmly rooting the story of Jesus in history. Matthew opens by giving us Jesus’ genealogy, so we can know exactly who His human ancestry was. Luke opens with a pledge to write “an orderly account,” and then he fills his account with numerous specific historical details: the names of emperors, governors, rulers, high priests, towns, customs, etc.
So if the story of Jesus is history, why does it have the ring of myth to it? I said that the story of Jesus echoes the themes of many human myths. What if the other myths are actually an echo of the true story of Jesus? What if each of us has an ache, a longing for rescue, a strong desire to be deeply and truly loved, which pours itself into our stories? What if God Himself put that ache in our hearts so that we would long for Him? What if God sowed the seeds in the human spirit which would ultimately only find their fruit in the coming of Jesus?
This Christmas, let’s look at the story of Jesus’ coming with fresh eyes. Let’s see with renewed wonder how the deepest longings of our hearts are met in Him and in Him alone!
Jason Van Bemmel is pastor of Forest Hill PCA in Forest Hill, Maryland. He has prepared devotionals for each day of Advent, and this devotional was published with his permission. Read them all at gospeladvent.org.