One of my favorite Christmas movies is the 1947 classic Miracle on 34th Street. Evidently a lot of other people have liked this movie too. It won three Academy Awards in its debut year. In 2005, the U.S. Library of Congress selected the movie for preservation in the National Film Registry, recognizing the film as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. The story revolves around a New York City department store Santa named Kris Kringle who claims to be the real Santa Claus. And while the story is warm and nostalgic for viewers young and old, I’m not certain to this day if I know what “miracle” the title promises to reveal.
By contrast, the real Christmas story as told in the Scriptures describes many actual miracles that occurred in connection with the birth of Jesus Christ. In Luke 1:26-38, we can find at least three of those miracles.
- God can and does use ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Today, when government or cultural leaders want to get out an important message to the most listeners possible, they often use well-known celebrities as spokespeople. Contrast that with what God did to get His gospel message to the world trapped in sin and guilt. He sent the angel Gabriel—that’s a miracle in itself, by the way—to an ordinary Jewish peasant girl living in the backwater village of Nazareth in Galilee. God could have chosen a priest’s or a king’s daughter to be the mother of the Messiah. But He chose Mary. When the angel Gabriel told Mary that God had looked on her with great favor, she was troubled by the announcement, wondering, “Who am I that an angel should come to me with a direct message from God. But that part of Gabriel’s announcement could not hold a candle to the main message that Mary would give birth to the Messiah, the Son of the Most High God! God would use Mary, an ordinary Jewish maiden, to do the most extraordinary thing.
- God makes the impossible possible. If Mary was anxious about the angel’s appearance and greeting, she was astounded by the announcement that she would give birth. To be sure, she was engaged to be married. But the wedding had not happened yet, and she certainly had not had sexual relations with a man. She was a virgin, and no virgin had ever become pregnant. It was impossible. Who among us would not have had similar thoughts as Mary had? However, Gabriel reminded her (and us) that “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). If God can bring the entire creation into existence out of nothing by simply saying “Let there be,” He can cause an ordinary young Jewish maiden to become pregnant with the Son of God in human form—an infant Child growing in her womb.
- God became incarnate to save sinners. This is the miracle of miracles from the Bible’s Christmas story. It is the story of how the one eternal, infinite God took on human flesh and blood, becoming Immanuel, “God with us.” Why did the Son of God do this miraculous thing? John 3:16 says it best: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (KJV). Christmas is really just the introduction to the gospel story. It points forward to the sacrificial Lamb, to the cross, to Easter, and one day to the glorious return of Christ to receive His people into heaven and eternal life.
As you enjoy your favorite Christmas movies this year, remember that none of them can compare with the greatest story that ever happened—the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord!
David Briscoe is a content editor at Lifeway for Explore the Bible resources.