A Reasonable Christmas (Matthew 1:1–25)

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Every year at Christmastime I am exposed to silly, sentimental, predictable and completely unbelievable (because unreasonable) Hallmark Christmas movies. They all seem to have the same plot and typically carry some sentimental title like The Magic of Christmas or A Christmas Miracle or something to that effect.

Hallmark Christmas films are completely unbelievable. Sadly, many treat the historical Christmas with the same cynicism. Many equate the incarnation—God becoming a man—with the credibility of Santa Claus and reindeer and other Christmas folklore. This is tragic—and completely unnecessary.

I have always found the words of J. I. Packer helpful in this regard: “It is no wonder that thoughtful people find the gospel of Jesus Christ hard to believe, for the realities with which it deals pass man’s understanding. But it is sad that so many make faith harder than it needs to be, by finding difficulties in the wrong places.” Packer then highlights some of these areas: the atonement (one dying in the place of another to atone for sins), the resurrection of Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, and His many miracles. He then says,

But in fact the real difficulty, because the supreme mystery with which the gospel confronts us, does not lie here at all. It lies, not in the Good Friday message of atonement, nor in the Easter message of resurrection, but in the Christmas message of incarnation. The really staggering Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth was God made man…. Once we grant that Jesus was divine, it becomes unreasonable to find difficulty in any of [these other miracles]; it is all of a piece, and hangs together completely. The incarnation is in itself an unfathomable mystery, but it makes sense of everything else that the New Testament contains.

As we celebrate Christmas—Emmanuel: God with us and therefore God for us—I want to help us to see that Christmas is reasonable and therefore believable. To not believe in Christmas is inexcusable. In fact, to not believe in Christmas—to reject the truth of the incarnation—is damnable. But, to believe in Christmas, and to then go on to believe in Good Friday and Easter, is not only reasonable but absolutely necessary.

Let’s look at three reasons why Christmas is reasonable, and therefore why it is believable.

Christmas is Factual

First, Christmas is reasonable because it is factual, because it is historical. History matters, and Christianity is grounded in historical fact. This is the point of Matthew’s genealogy:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king.

David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.

(Matthew 1:1–17)

Much time is spent examining the historicity of the resurrection, but the same needs to be done with the historicity of the incarnation. As we have seen, once we are persuaded that the incarnation is reasonable (because it is true), we will have little trouble believing the resurrection.

Let’s consider some historical credibility for Christmas.

The Genealogies

Two of the Gospel accounts record genealogies of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1–17; Luke 3:23–37). Neither Mark nor John record the human genealogy of Jesus—for good reason.

Mark’s interest is to portray Jesus as the perfect bond-servant, and in Mark’s world, the hereditary of a servant was irrelevant. Perhaps another reason why Mark does not give a genealogy is because his purpose was limited in scope to the actions of Jesus—actions which highlight Jesus as the servant of God whom the world must behold.

John presents Jesus as the Son of God, and uncreated beings do not have a genealogy. In fact, John simply states that Jesus was “in the beginning” with God (1:1). He traces Jesus’ eternal “genealogy” rather than his earthly one.

But Matthew and Luke do record genealogies because both are writing with a focused historical purpose.

Luke wrote his narrative (1:1) to present Jesus as the Son of Man. Though Matthew uses the phrase “Son of Man” slightly more frequently than Luke does, nevertheless it appears that Dr Luke was particularly concerned to emphasise the humanity of Jesus. And humans have genealogies. In fact, the genealogy in Luke gives a hint at his purpose because he traces Jesus’ genealogy back to Adam, whom he calls “the son of God” (3:38). He presents Jesus as the perfect man, the last Adam, the second man from heaven (see 1 Corinthians 15:45–47).

Matthew’s purpose was to present Jesus as the King of the Jews and ultimately as the King of kings (28:18). It was particularly important that Jesus’ genealogy is reputable. Kings throughout history have been enthroned based on heredity. This is why the word “begot” is important: It refers to legal descent.

If Jesus is Messiah, if He is the Anointed One, then He must have a lineage that is not only Jewish (hence “the son of Abraham,” 1:1) but particularly of the line of David (1:1). The genealogy in Matthew establishes the legitimacy of Jesus Christ to the throne of his father David as prophesied in the Old Testament.

Matthew’s use of fourteen generations serves to drive home the credibility of the genealogy. The name David in Hebrew numerology equates to fourteen. Rabinically, fourteen generations were equivalent to seventy weeks of years (see Daniel)—490 years. So Matthew is highlighting that the incarnation was factually grounded in history—and he was highlighting the faithfulness of God.

The point is that Jesus was a historical person. Though God interrupted human history in a dramatic miracle—a virgin birth—there is nevertheless a historical connection. Jesus “is no isolated figure, no mere innovator, but one who can be adequately measured only in terms of what has gone on before” (Ned Stonehouse).

For those who doubted the reasonable conjecture that Jesus is the Messiah, they could check out the genealogical tables (Chronicles) and they would be well on their way to a credible belief. The records could be easily refuted if they were untrue, but since they are not, these genealogies substantiate Jesus’ claim to be the Son of David and the King of the Jews.

It should be noted that there are some alleged contradictions between the genealogies. However, these contradictions are easily resolved when one realises that, beginning with David, Matthew traced the paternal line of descent through Solomon, while Luke traced the maternal line through Solomon’s brother, Nathan. When Joseph married Mary, Jesus was given true legal status as his son and therefore the lineage is validly Davidic.

There is also an alleged contradiction with a prophecy of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 22:28–30, Jeremiah prophesied that Jeconiah (Coniah) would never have a son on the throne of David, but Matthew 1:12 traces his genealogy through Jeconiah. However, since Jesus was not a blood descendant of Jeconiah, but was legally a descendant of Mary, He does qualify as King.

The point is simply this: The gospel is not afraid of historical scrutiny. Christmas is not superstitious. Christmas happened. God became man. And that human being entered this world through a virgin’s womb. That babe was God in the flesh. That babe was Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14).

The Census

Another avenue of historical credibility can be seen in the record of the census in Luke 2. Luke speaks of a decree of Caesar Augustis that the empire should be registered, and notes that this took place in the time of Governor Quirinius (see Luke 2:1–2ff). For many years, sceptics attacked Luke’s account of the census by Quirinius the Governor as a case of historical fiction. The allegation was that there was no historical record of a governor in Syria at that time by that name, and that there was such a universal tax by the Romans of those in Palestine.

But the stones of archaeology have once again cried out. Dr. John Elder notes that

archaeological discoveries prove beyond doubt that regular enrollment of taxpayers was a feature of Ro­man rule and have shown that a census was taken every fourteen years. A large Egyptian papyrus, telling of an enrollment AD 174–175, refers to two previous enroll­ments, one in 160–161 and an­other in 146–147, at intervals of fourteen years. A much earlier papyrus, dated in the reign of Tiber­ius (14–37 AD) reports a man’s wife and dependents for enrollment and apparently has a reference to a tax roll compiled AD 20–21. Another shows an en­rollment under Nero AD 62–63; another lists those exempt from the poll tax in the forty-first year of Augustus, who began his reign in 27 BC. Since Augustus records that he set about early in his reign to organize the empire, the first census may have been either 23–22 BC or in 9–8 BC; the latter would be the census to which the Gospel of Luke refers.

Dr. Jack Finegan, professor of New Testament history and archaeology and director of the Palestine Institute of Archaeology at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, writes:

The question has been raised whether the Romans would have instituted census and taxation procedures in Palestine while Herod the Great was ruling as king of the Jews. That they would not have hesitated to do so is suggested by comparison with Apamea on the Orontes in Syria. The autonomy of this city-state is shown by the fact that it minted its own coins, yet Quirinius himself had a census taken there. A gravestone found in Venice carries the inscription of a Roman officer named Q. Aemilius Secundus. He states that by order of P. Sulpicius Quirinius, whom he calls legatus Caesaris Syriae, he himself conducted a census of Apamea, a city-state of 117,000 citizens. As for Herod, Josephus reports that in the time when Saturninus and Volumnius were the presidents of Syria, Caesar Augustus demoted him from “friend” to “subject.” Saturninus was listed above as governor of Syria in 9-6 BC, and Volumnius was evidently associated with him. By comparison with Apamea and specially from the time of Herod’s demotion by Augustus, Palestine would scarcely be exempt from any census and taxation procedures the Romans wished to institute.

It is interesting that the number fourteen arises again. God was providentially bringing all to pass “in the fullness of the time” (Galatians 4:4).

The Slaughter of the Infants

A third complaint has to do with the record of the slaughter of the infants (Matthew 2:16–18). It has been correctly noted that there is no existing extrabiblical historical record of this event. Even Josephus makes no mention of this event.

It has, however, been well established that Herod was a sociopath, who had hundreds of people—political rivals, a wife, a mother-in-law, three sons—assassinated because he viewed them as a threat. One historian observed that it was better to be Herod’s pig than his son (given that he was kosher).

In New Testament times, Bethlehem was an insignificant little town with a population of perhaps three hundred. That being the case, there were probably no more than six infants who were killed under this edict. Without minimising the horror of these murders, this event would hardly have been big news in the larger region or in the broader history of Herod’s reign. Josephus wrote around 93 AD. Most importantly, he was loyal to the Herodian dynasty. It is hardly surprising that he would not have recorded this blot in Herod’s biography.

A Trustworthy Historian

A fourth aspect of the credibility of Christmas has to do with the well-established trustworthiness of Luke as a historian.

Luke’s Christmas account is the longest. The opening verses of his Gospel (1:1–4) show that he did a thorough job of investigating and corroborating his claims. Anyone who wished to denounce Luke’s accounts could easily have interviewed his eyewitnesses to refute him, and yet his Gospel quickly attained canonical status. Only by special pleading can Luke as a faithful, accurate historian be dismissed. As Stonehouse notes, “The point of the prologue is that Christianity is true and is capable of confirmation by appeal to what had happened.”

Theophilus was no doubt Luke’s patron—and we do not know for sure whether he was a believing patron. He would have had vested interest in ensuring that the doctor did not produce a fraudulent document. Perhaps Luke wrote to this man to convince him of the truth. Perhaps Theophilus was in fact searching for the truth and so he subsidised Luke to find the truth.

Many reputable historians and scholars throughout history credit Luke with being an able historian. He was a man who paid attention to detail and who apparently sought corroboration of details. Even a cursory reading of Acts points to this.

What has this to do with Matthew? An awful lot. There are no contradictions between Luke and Matthew’s accounts. They fit hand in glove. Matthew, a tax collector, would have been a man given to detail. Further, since he wrote to convince the Jews, surely if he was inaccurate it would have been quickly and decisively pointed out. But it wasn’t! Matthew’s account is reasonable and therefore believable.

In short, Christmas accords with the facts of history. Even most sceptics of the resurrection do not deny the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. But once you grant this, and once you study the record and realise that Jesus was not merely a man, the resurrection becomes believable as well. The gospel is credible! Merry Christmas!

God is Faithful

Second, Christmas is reasonable because God is faithful. Christmas was the result of God’s faithfulness. If for no other reason, believe in the incarnation because God always keeps His Word. He promised to send the seed of the woman to crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15); at Christmas, He sent the seed, and at Easter, the seed crushed the serpent’s head.

Of course, this is the ultimate reason for all that is recorded here. God is faithful to keep His Word, and it is for that reason that it is reasonable to believe in the incarnation. After all, with God all things are possible.

That was the message at the announcement of the incarnation and that truth remains to this day. It will be true tomorrow as well. With the incarnation, everything has changed; and yet with God, nothing has changed (see Luke 1:37).

In the Christmas story, we see the faithfulness of God in a number of ways.

The Genealogy

A main way in which we see the faithfulness of God, and therefore the incarnation as reasonable to believe, is in the genealogy itself. Matthew’s genealogy is structured around three major epochs, each of which the author identifies as “fourteen generations.” In these three epochs, we see a genealogy of fallen fathers, a genealogy of failed leaders, and a genealogy of frustrated people.

A Genealogy of the Fallen

The first part (vv. 1–6a) is a genealogy of fallen forefathers:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king.

(Matthew 1:1–6a)

Abraham and David were considered great men for many reasons, and yet they, like the rest of those in the genealogy (and like those going to back to Adam in Luke’s genealogy), were fallen sinners. Their record is not without its major blemishes.

The genealogy commences, with the words “Son of” and then switches repeatedly to “begot.” This is significant. Jesus was begotten of God (John 1:18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9). Everyone else in this genealogy was “begotten” (fathered) by a sinner.

The first time we read the words “begot a son” in Scripture, we read of the birth of a sinner:

And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he had sons and daughters. So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.

(Genesis 5:3–5)

As we can see, sin ended in death (see Genesis 2:17). Everyone mentioned in the genealogy of Matthew was a fallen sinner—the only exception being Christ. Note how the language changes: “And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.” Jesus was not begotten, like the rest of these, by a sinner. Yes, He was born through a sinner (Mary) but was not begotten by a sinner (Joseph). Jesus was not “begotten” by Joseph but was born through Mary. He did not have a sin nature because He was born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Only God could so order a genealogy! God would faithfully save the fallen by a man who is not a sinner (see vv. 21–23).

You, reader, are fallen. You have sinned and thereby fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). You miss the mark daily, moment by moment—through sins of omission as well as sins of commission. You do not conform to God’s holy standards. You may be a “good” person, as Abraham and David were generally known to be, and yet, like them, you have your dark secrets (which may not be as secret as you imagine). There may be a Tamar experience in your life.

It is interesting that, even in this genealogy of fallenness, there is the prospect of forgiveness. All of these were forgiven, but this is perhaps most obviously highlighted in the lives of Judah and Tamar. Rahab, Bathsheba and Ruth were all outside the covenant people of God, and yet were privileged, having been forgiven, to be in the line of Messiah.

The best of men are merely men at best. Fallen man cannot produce a Saviour. Only the sovereign can. And He did—not because we are faithful but because He is. There is hope. God in His sovereignty fulfilled His covenant because He is faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). Our fallenness is a means by which God reveals His faithfulness.

A Genealogy of Failure

The second part of the genealogy is one of failure:

David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

(Matthew 1:6b–11)

The kings of Israel mentioned had some victories. They experienced some high points, yet they had their share of ugly failures. This list of kings could be titled “the good, the bad and the ugly.” There are a several good kings mentioned here, but most were foolish failures.

Because these kings persisted in godlessness, they did not receive, but lost, the kingdom. God’s people were destroyed and carried away by the Babylonians. These fallen human kings failed to deliver covenant faithfulness.

Israel would need another king. They would need the true King. And, as MacArthur writes, “The king of grace came through the line of two sinful men. If he has called them by grace to be his forefathers, should we be surprised when he calls us by grace to be his descendants?”

You have failed. Like Isaiah, we are “undone” (6:5). We are like these kings, whose mothers probably looked into their faces with great hope that their boy would be the deliverer, only to be disappointed. Despite resolve and despite all your self-effort to change, despite all your plans to rid yourself of destructive habits, you find yourself at a loss—a loss almost too great to bear.

The sooner that you and I acknowledge this, the sooner we will make much of Christmas! And we won’t be ashamed!

A Genealogy of Frustration

The third and final part of the genealogy is one of frustration:

And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary.

(Matthew 1:12–16a)

The nation went into such decline that God had them defeated and carried away to languish under Babylonian rule. Upon their return from exile, they were continually frustrated in their endeavour to establish the kingdom. They managed to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, as well as the temple, yet neither lived up to the glory of the days of Israel under Solomon. Frustration ensued—economically, politically, militarily, socially and, most importantly, spiritually.

Are you frustrated? Do you sense deep futility? Perhaps you feel as if you cannot get any traction. You are low, low and lower. All seems hopeless. You agree with the sentiments of Solomon, so long ago, that everything is empty and vain. You weep and you don’t even know why. You sense that there is so much more to living than you are experiencing. You long for another dimension. You sense a loss of the transcendent, and yet at the same time you have a quest for it. All seems broken and hopeless. What can you do?

Have you ever felt that way? Has this ever been your experience? Have you experienced unfulfilled expectations of what you wanted to accomplish in your life, career, relationships, marriage or childrearing? Perhaps you sense frustration with what you thought your Christianity would bring, or a sense of hopelessness about not only the present but also about the future. Well, take heart. Christmas provides you with plenty of reason why you can and should yet be hopeful.

A Genealogy of Fulfilment

Thankfully, the genealogy does not end with frustration. Instead, the last part of the third section is a genealogy of fulfilment: “of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations” (vv. 16–18).

The incarnation was in fulfilment of God’s promise (see 1:21–23). At least fifteen times in his Gospel, Jesus speaks of fulfilled prophecy. God was waiting for the perfect timing. God, in fact, was ordering this perfect timing. He knew the right time for Christmas. As Paul would later write,

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born*[Or made] of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

(Galatians 4:4–6)

The opening words of the Gospel—“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ”—is akin to the Old Testament toledoth or “story” (Genesis 2:4; 5:1; etc.). Matthew’s is the story of God’s faithfulness. The Christmas story is truly His story. It reminds us that God’s history is one characterised by faithfulness.

This genealogy is not merely a lesson in human fallenness, failure and frustration, but is ultimately a genealogical testimony to the faithfulness of God. Despite of the fallenness of the patriarchs, despite of the failures of the political leaders, and despite of the frustrated futility of the people of God, God Himself remained faithful. He still does; He still is (see Hebrews 11:6).

Though there is much debate about the actual date of Christ’s birth there is in fact nothing to debate about the historical reality that Jesus Christ was born! Christmas happened.  God became a man in the fullness of the time. And this happened so that God would save sinners from their fallenness, their failures, and their frustrated futility. He would do this by His Son living a perfect life, dying in our place, and paying the price of our sin: the eternal wrath of God. Jesus did this and so we can be forgiven. But more so, now we can be included in the genealogy of Christ: for we are brothers with Him of the same God and Father. That is why, by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we can say and pray with Jesus, “Abba, Father!” (see Mark 14:36; Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:15).

Are you sensing your fallenness, your failures, and your futility or frustration? Then believe in Christmas! Trust in God, who has proved Himself faithful throughout history and, in a most remarkable way, at Christmas. Believe in Christmas, and in Good Friday, and in Easter. Believe God!

We can conclude this point by quoting—and then extending—the words of v. 17: “So all the generations from Abraham” to our generation! Every generation has experienced the fall, the failure and the futility of life apart from God. But because God is faithful, Christmas happened. And we can say, “Emmanuel—God with us!” And for all who willingly and repentantly identify with this genealogy, we can say, God is not only with us, but He is for us (Romans 8:31).

Christmas is Fruitful

Finally, Christmas is reasonable because it has proven fruitful and truthful. This is an existential argument, but a powerful one that is not easily dismissed. Lives have been transformed from the inside out.

We have looked at two reasonable proofs why you should believe in Christmas—and therefore why you should believe the gospel.

First, Christmas—the Incarnation—is reasonable because it is rooted in historical fact. Second, we should believe in Christmas because God is faithful. That, of course, is sufficient. After all, God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).

But related to this is what I will offer as a final reasonable proof of Christmas: It has proven truthful as evidenced in the lives of multitudes whose lives have been changed because of it. And the first person whom I will bring to the witness stand is Mary.

Mary, Did You Know?

Did Mary know about the glory of the incarnation? Of course she did! Her song proves the point:

And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.”

(Luke 1:46–55)

This is a treasure trove of Scriptural truth. Clearly, Mary believed the word of the Lord revealed by the angel Gabriel. She understood that, with God, all things are possible.

Mary often kept things in her heart as she considered who her Son was and why He came and what would happen to Him—all the way to the end (John 19:27). When we see Mary with Jesus at the wedding celebration in Cana, we have clear evidence of her confidence that Jesus was God in the flesh (John 2:1–11). She knew why he had come and so she understood His words, “My hour has not yet come.” She knew who He was and therefore what He could do.

At Calvary, mother identified with Son—I assume that because she believed who He was. The prophesied sword pierced her soul and we see that she believed (Luke 2:35). After Jesus ascended, we see Mary faithfully serving the Lord by serving His church (Acts 1:14). No doubt, the early church heard all that she revealed. And their hearts were opened by this truth of Christmas.

Do not dismiss Mary’s testimony. Do not dismiss her fidelity to Him. She believed.

Joseph, Did You Believe?

Did Joseph believe? Certainly! Matthew 1:24 is instructive: “Then Joseph … did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” The children’s song sums it up well: “Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe.” Joseph obeyed because he believed.

Because he believed, he took Mary and Jesus to Egypt, fleeing Herod’s threat (2:13–15). Later, he proved that he believed when he returned to Palestine after Herod’s death (2:19–23). He had a significant change of mind—what we call repentance. Joseph had a profound change of disposition and a change of direction because he believed in Christmas.

We can put it this way: Mary’s exaltation is evidence that she believed, and Joseph’s transformation is evidence that he believed.

Please don’t miss this: They were eyewitnesses! Jesus was a baby and all that went with that. And yet, at the same time, He was not a normal baby. Nor was He a normal child. He was sinless! Joseph and Mary would know whether He was a fraud.

Nearly 2000 Years of Evidence

But let me present my final piece of evidence for the reasonableness of Christian: Multitudes ever since the first century have experienced justification, sanctification and glorification. That is, multitudes, including many reading this right now, have had lives gloriously and irrevocably changed because of Christmas.

Because God became man, and then lived a perfect life as a man, and then died in the place of sinful mankind, and because He then rose from the dead and ascended to the Father’s right hand, sinners like you and me have been transformed. My heart has been recreated, my sins have been forgiven, and my life is being renewed. Jesus is still doing this!

Yes, I believe in Christmas. It is reasonable for me to do so. And because of Christmas it is completely reasonable for me to believe in Good Friday and Easter. It is all one package.

Do you believe in Christmas? What difference is it making in your life? It should make a difference in both your disposition and in your direction, because it makes a difference in your devotion. Christmas is reasonable, and is therefore believable. Believe it, and then live like it. Merry Christmas, indeed!