As I have entered into my “mature years”, my taste in music has gravitated to classical, especially orchestral music. I find classical music enriching, relaxing and uplifting. Much of classical music follows familiar patterns. There is usually a prelude, of some sort, that introduces the major musical themes of the piece. Often these themes are contrasting: dynamic and bold vs. calm and subtle. This is followed by several movements that develop the major themes. The piece then comes to a climax at the end, which again emphasizes the major themes of the music.
Christmas is a BIG DEAL. For many people, it is the climax of the year. It is a time for families and friends to get together and celebrate their connection. It is a time of giving and receiving. It is a time of extravagant parties and intimate gatherings. It is truly a joyous time. But Christmas is not really the climax; it is the prelude to God’s symphony.
If we look closely at the accounts of Jesus’ birth, as recorded in Matthew and Luke, we can see all the themes of Jesus’ life introduced. We see joy and sorry, conflict and struggle, and ultimate victory. Christmas sets that stage for a life of greatness.
The main theme is introduced with the announcement of Jesus’ birth to Mary. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." Luke 1:30-33 The child to be born to Mary will be no ordinary child. He will be great, in fact, he will be a king.
The main theme of the story is further defined when the angel comes to Joseph. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:20-21 Not only will this child be a king, he will be a Savior. God has established the main theme of his symphony.
There are two secondary themes that are introduced during this prelude: joy and sorry. The theme of joy is introduced by Luke, as the shepherds are informed of the good news of Jesus’ birth. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Luke 2:8-12
Matthew advances this theme with the arrival of the Magi. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2:10-11
Even as the theme of joy is lingering in the air, the black cloud of conflict begins to build. When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." Matthew 2:13
Throughout the rest of God’s symphony, Jesus develops and lives out the themes introduced in the prelude. The climax comes some 33 years later, when Jesus emerges victorious from the tomb on Easter. But God has one more movement to His symphony, and it is yet to be played. For one day, Jesus will return in power and glory to claim his rightful place on the throne forever.