“At first glance [the Christmas story] looks like the other legends. . . . We read that and think, Another great fairy tale! Indeed, it looks like the Christmas story is one more story pointing to these underlying realities. But Matthew’s Gospel refutes that by grounding Jesus in history, not ‘once upon a time’. . . . Jesus Christ is not one more lovely story pointing to those underlying realities — Jesus is the underlying reality to which all the stories point.”- Timothy Keller
Timothy Keller continues Chapter 2 of Hidden Christmas with the second thing we learn from what Matthew does not say. Certainly, the Christmas story is not fiction. Yet, Pastor Keller argues, it changes the way we read fiction in the most wonderful way.
The great fairy tales and legends (‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, King Arthur), while not factually true, seem to fulfill a set of longings that fiction never touches or satisfies. But even though we know these stories never happened, a well-told story temporarily satisfies those longings. The story scratches the terrible itch.
In addition, Pastor Keller explains:
“Jesus Christ has come from that eternal, supernatural world that we sense is there, that our hearts know is there, though our heads say no. At Christmas he punched a hole between the ideal and the real, the eternal and the temporal, and came into our world. . . .
Put another way, even though fairy tales aren’t fictionally true, the truth of Jesus means all the stories we love aren’t escapism after all. In a sense they . . . will come true in him.”
In conclusion, the great fairy tales and legends do provide entertaining escapism. However, the Gospel, because it is a true story, proves all the best stories, in the ultimate sense, true.
Today’s question: How does grounding Jesus in history make the Christmas story unique? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “The begats of the Bible”