As a little boy, I was blessed to grow up in the small country of Austria, the land of “Silent Night, Holy Night” and of The Sound of Music. Christmas was truly a special time of the year, and many Christmases were in fact white. My sister and I would leave our wish list for the Christ child on our window sill the night before Christmas (we celebrated on Christmas Eve), and then, on Christmas Eve, behind closed doors, we heard our Christmas tree being set up and decorated by (we surmised) angels. Later that evening, we would enter our living room, and, lo and behold, find most of the... Read More
The following Advent Reading Plan, reproduced from The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation by Andreas J. Kӧstenberger and Alexander E. Stewart (foreword by Justin Taylor; Wheaton: Crossway, 2015) includes six readings from the Old Testament, six from Matthew, nine from Luke, and four from John.
The readings, keyed to The First Days of Jesus, move from some of the major Old Testaments texts expressing messianic expectations to the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke to John’s prologue. Ideally, these Scripture passages should be read in conjunction with the respective... Read More
In order to appreciate the significance of Messiah’s coming—and thus to understand the true meaning of Christmas—we need to travel back in time, back to the first Christmas, before this event even carried that name. We can’t offer you a time machine, but we can point you to the earliest written witnesses to the first Christmas: the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
These Gospel authors wrote their accounts on the basis of the eyewitness testimony of others; neither Matthew nor Luke was there on that fateful night in Bethlehem. Luke even explicitly alerts his readers to... Read More
God does not always do things the way that we think he should or act as we might expect. He does not always act in accordance with human wisdom (Paul develops this point in 1 Corinthians 1:18–25, 27–29). Nowhere is this clearer than in the infancy narratives of Matthew 1–2 and Luke 1–2. The birth of Jesus fulfilled God’s promises in a way that bypassed contemporary expectations. Our familiarity with the Christmas story unwittingly causes us to miss the unexpected wonder, shock, newness, and scandal which accompanied these events.
The Scandal of the Virgin Conception
Matthew provides... Read More