When my little girl almost 2 years old, I picked up The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones. The first time we sat down to look through it, we read not one story but the prologue, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2! I instantly fell in love with this book because it seemed to wrap up all the stories of the Bible into one big, true story!
Of course it began as the Bible actually does with Adam and Eve's sin in The Garden. Because of their sin, God has to separate them from Himself. I can almost hear God's voice,
"Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: 'It will not always be so! I will come to rescue you! And when I do, I’m going to do battle against the snake. I’ll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I’m coming back for you!' And he would. One day, God himself would come.”
When you flip over to page 182 of The Jesus Storybook Bible, you see the fulfillment of God's hoarsely whispered cry...
"And there, in the stable, amongst the chickens and the donkeys and the cows, in the quiet of the night, God gave the world his wonderful gift. The baby that would change the world was born. His baby Son.
Mary and Joseph wrapped him up to keep him warm...and they gazed in wonder at God's Great Gift, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.
Mary and Joseph named him Jesus, 'Emmanuel'--which means, 'God has come to live with us.' Because, of course, he had."
When sin entered the world, it was like the heavy fog, the suffocating heat of darkness settled over the hearts and lives of mankind. It's something I don't think I really saw clearly until I was older and had experienced and brushed up against real evil.
But God knew---at creation--that sin would darken his lovely world and the hearts of his children. And each Christmas, I'm blown away by the light imagery in the Bible. Isaiah's prophecy, Zechariah's song, Simeon's prayer and of course, Jesus' declaration all show the Light that was promised had come into the dark world.
God's plan, his mission was to rid the world of this darkness. God promised that Eve's son would crush the head of the serpent, the one who introduced the darkness to the world. And on the day we call Christmas, that plan was set into motion. Jesus' birth was the first step to the Cross.
The Jesus Storybook Bible continues the story of God's secret rescue plan when Jesus died on the cross,
"The full force of the storm of God's fierce anger at sin was coming down. On his own Son. Instead of his people. It was the only way God could destroy sin, and not destroy his children whose hearts were filled with sin.
Then Jesus shouted in a loud voice, "It is finished!"
And it was. He had done it. Jesus had rescued the whole world."
Our sweet baby Jesus would one day be a broken and bruised man giving his life for his friends. The happy, coziness of Christmas doesn't compare or line up with the grief and heaviness of Good Friday and the thought of Jesus' death.
But, it's what I want to remember. I want to look at Christmas as a stepping stone to God rescuing the whole world. I want to help my children see that Christmas isn't simply remembering the gift but it's a call to become a herald of that gift!
Family idea: Make a manger-and-cross gift and open it on Christmas day! Pray and thank God for the indescribable gift of Jesus!
All quotes taken from The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones.
Amanda White is a stay-at-home mom of two who blogs at ohAmanda.com and is the author of Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands. In her former life, Amanda was a Children’s Pastor — overseeing, organizing and developing ministry for kids in nursery through middle school, but now that she is a mom, her “skills” are used up on her kids!
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