Christmas – Simple as ABC

Buried in the prophetic words of Zechariah is a question that we would do well to think about at Christmas time: “For who has despised the day of small things (Zech. 4:10)?” Some translate that to say, “Who despises or just dismisses small beginnings?” It’s certainly an interesting question that has great application to the miraculous, awesome celebration of Christmas. Some people miss so much of life because they overlook the day of small things or small beginnings. The Christmas story is, at its essence, an event of small beginnings.

At this Christmas time — while it’s such a big event in our culture and certainly worthy of the whole world stopping to give attention to it — pause for a few moments to think about the small beginnings of Christmas. I titled this article “Christmas – Simple as ABC” because the alphabet, usually referred to as the “ABC’s”, is so foundational and yet so small to everything we say or write or express. The Christmas story is that kind of event, profoundly unexplainable and also unbelievably simple.

Think about the Christmas “A” that would stand for Announcement. The announcement that a person would come, a Savior would arrive. All through Scripture the  announcement is given in various forms and fashions but is unmistakably true in every instance. Few of those scriptural announcements are as beautiful and profound as Isaiah 9:6. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the prophet said, “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.” We understand, looking through history, that this person was the Son of God – Jesus — who came to us. Unto us a Child is born. The announcement that God was going to come and live among us. An innocent child, a precious baby boy, would become our Savior.

Can you imagine how people would process Isaiah’s proclamation 3,000 years ago, that such a small birth taking place to an average man and woman would bring about an earth-shaking moment? Yes, despise not the day of small beginnings, and to us a baby has come. Isaiah goes on to say so beautifully how He will be designated. That “His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).  Suddenly, something so small in its beginnings is overwhelming to every one of us. The announcement, so simple, so amazing, is Jesus. The announcement is that there is hope for the world. There is hope for you. There is hope for me. In the midst of despair, darkness, and dilemmas, there is hope. The announcement came to earth that God was sending His Son.

The Christmas “B” stands for the Birth. The announcement had been made and in time, the promise would be fulfilled. It was an amazing, incredible birth. It was Isaiah who also had the word from God that a virgin would be with child. Baby Jesus would not be born of Joseph or even of the line of Adam, whose sin has touched every one of us down through the ages. His father would be God Himself. Possibly the best known verse in all the Bible states it so clearly this way, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God’s unique Son, His one-of-a-kind Son, His only begotten Son, was born to us at Christmas. So small you would not even recognize, but this life of God would be wrapped in human flesh and born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. Indeed, small beginnings that have touched the entire planet.

The Christmas “C” could represent Circumstances. The circumstances around which the birth of Jesus came are in themselves breathtaking and remind us that God is in control. God was shaping everything. The most powerful leader on the planet, Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus, had no idea God was using him. Augustus would make the decision that a census was in order and everyone should return to their hometown to register. I feel confident that this Caesar made decisions he thought were a lot more important than ordering a census so that the government would know where people were and how much taxes he could expect. However, he signed the census proclamation. Luke writes in the second chapter of his Gospel, “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered” (Luke 2:1). It was just a small decision with a big impact, and that was to bring about the biggest hope of mankind ever to be revealed. People may have thought, “Well how’s this going to affect my income?” It wouldn’t affect anyone’s income as much as it would affect their eternity. The small circumstances became important for every one of us to evaluate.

Another circumstance that is amazing to analyze has to do with Joseph, who was supposed to marry Mary but finds out she’s going to have a baby. According to Scripture, being a good man, he was just going to quietly put her aside and not make a public spectacle of it, not damage her reputation any further. He would just tell her they were not going to go through with the wedding since obviously someone else had been involved with her and a child soon to be born.

Let’s just for a moment consider if that scenario had happened, that Joseph was so distraught he broke off the relationship and filed for separation and let her go on her way. Probably this young woman who had never been out of the region of Nazareth, would have found family members to care of her and she would have borne the child right there in her comfortable hometown area. However, the prophet Micah declared that the birthplace of the child was to be Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). The prophetic words from hundreds of years before would have been untrue if Joseph had divorced Mary, but that’s not what happened. In a dream Joseph had, the angel told him he did have to fear to take Mary to be his wife for God had touched her and the child she would soon bear would be God’s child (Matthew 1:20-21). The good man Joseph became Joseph the believing man. He embraced what God was doing by embracing his wife to help her and to love her.

Don’t overlook small things. Don’t ignore the little things of which God wants you to be a part.  Those small things may, in the days of your life to come, grow into big things, enormous things. May this Christmas be that kind of Christmas for you that even the small things that are taking place around you, you will quickly see and through eyes of faith and understanding that God is at work. You will see how big, how enormous the Lord’s hand can make things become. Merry Christmas to all and to each of you a glorious experience with the baby Jesus who will be our eternal, reigning King.

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Jim Futral

Executive Director-Treasurer