I always love to pick up a few season-related reads during Christmas time. Whether it is to reset my heart for reverence and anticipation or to learn some little known historical fact about tradition; Christmas time is chance to appreciate the holiday anew.
Carl Laferton adheres strictly to the texts of Matthew and Luke to counter the glittery nativity scenes modern Christianity has grown accustomed to. What he unveils is the dark masterpiece of God’s sovereignty and mercy as displayed in Christ’s birth.
The author was a journalist and the book reflects his training with short, memorable chapters. The prose moves between an on-going ill-managed school play to the synoptic account of what actually happened. It comes across humorous and light in parts, but Carl remains able to treat the heavier subjects with proper respect.
His two goals were (1) to tell what really happened and (2) to give why it matters. I believe he accomplished both. The order is chronological. The end of the book jumps abruptly to the crucifixion and resurrection, which appeared to be dropped in rather suddenly. However, he is able to it back into the Christmas story just in time for the short book to wrap up.
The final pages of the book are dedicated to answering a handful of basic apologetic questions about the person of Jesus, reliance of Scripture and so on.
For a book just shy of 70 pages, Carl accomplishes quite a feat. As far as readability and strength of content, it is definitely one of the better books I have read on the topic. I recommend this book for anyone looking for a quick read this season.
Below are a few highlights.
A nativity play begins with smiles and carols. The real Christmas began with scandal, shame and shock. (p.12)
I can accept Jesus’ rule, worshipping him as my king – like the Magi. Or I can resist and refuse his rule – like Herod. (38)
Thirty years later…a few hundred yards from where Simeon had held her son in his arms, Mary watched as soldiers executed him. (42)
The script had been written not in a palace or a temple but in heaven. (46)