Of course, you know the story of the baby Jesus born in the manger. But what about the others involved?
According to Dan Darling, author of the new book, The Characters of Christmas, there are a number of misfits, outcasts and ordinary people who play a pivotal role in the birth of Christ.
What can we learn from Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men, and the shepherds?
What important thread in God’s grand plan of redemption does the story’s villain play?
What is significant about the role of the angels?
Dan is the Vice President for Communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and serves as Pastor of Teaching and Discipleship at Green Hill Church in Tennessee. He’s the author of several books and frequently contributes to publications from Christianity Today to USA Today.
As Dan says, the Christmas story is one of reordering—of a new kingdom and a new king. And there’s much we can discover from the ordinary people who are swept up in the plan of God.
Dan is on the show today to share more about these individuals in the Christmas story and the central figure they point to at the center of it all. Jesus—the one, as Dan says, whose birth, life, death and resurrection change everything.
Show highlights include:
- “The Characters of Christmas” pushes people to look beyond sentimentality of Christmas and remember why it’s celebrated.
- What does Dan love about Christmas? Anticipation and story of Christmas about being born to a virgin and growing up to survive.
- Tension and turmoil: At the time of Christ’s birth, it was a time of peace, or a dark time for others.
- Why are supporting cast members overlooked? Pregnant out-of-wedlock meant Mary could be publicly shamed or put away for her protection by Joseph to bear some of the shame.
- Profound parenting: Joseph was always willing to do the right thing. Jesus learned everything he knew about humanity from Joseph.
- Humble beginnings by being born in an inn, cave or where travelers stopped to rest—we may never know.
- Wisemen: Royalty, philosophers or whomever seek truth, wherever that leads to give, bow and worship.
- There’s always someone trying to ruin Christmas! Herod’s the original villain in the Christmas story.
- Shepherds in Scripture: Accidental or intentional outcome given to least likely people—those with simple hearts and willing to share amazing angelic announcement.
- Angels are always around, every step of the way when God created the world, eyewitnesses to the plan of salvation, and love for human beings to watch over us.
- Dan’s one tip to avoid two extremes at Christmas: Consumerism and crankiness. Take time to pause, rest and reflect in awe and wonder of what Christmas is all about.
Good words from Dan Darling in this show:
[09:54] “Christmas is not as sentimental as we make it, but it is a re-ordering of things.”
[11:30] “Jesus and his humanity probably learned everything he knew from his father.”
[14:35] “The kingdom of God is made up not of just insiders, but outsiders.”
[19:22] “Angels are eyewitnesses to the divine plan of salvation.”
- Dan Darling
- “The Characters of Christmas” by Dan Darling
- Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention
- Green Hill Church
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