With its sparkly lights, piles of gifts, and heartwarming sentiments, it’s easy to become caught up in the flurry of activity at Christmas, forgetting about Who is at the center of it all. How do we recapture our love for the Christmas story, for Jesus, and better understand those who played a pivotal role in His birth?
“Christmas is more than Hallmark movies and trips to Grandma’s house,” says Daniel Darling, author of The Characters of Christmas (Moody Publishers/October 2019). “It is the celebration of the birth of the Son of God, the long-promised Messiah. It’s the in-breaking of the kingdom of God. That’s why it’s important for us to not get caught up simply in the sentimentality of Christmas without realizing what it is we are celebrating.”
In The Characters of Christmas, Darling, a prolific writer and author, takes readers back to the time of Christ’s birth, looking at the unusual group of misfits, societal outcasts, and often overlooked characters in the Christmas story. From the angels to the shepherds to the innkeeper (did he really exist?), and even Herod himself, Darling brings each one to life, explores their role in the Christmas story, and digs deep to reveal truths from their lives that impact believers today. He shares fresh takes on characters like:
- Joseph: Joseph was a man of simple faithfulness who did the next right thing in front of him. He knew who he was and he was committed to Scripture.
- Mary: This young, Jewish peasant girl is at the center of everything. Mary said yes to the hard call of discipleship, even though the circumstances were extraordinary.
- The Innkeeper: The Bible doesn’t even mention an innkeeper, but someone must have told Joseph and Mary the inn was full. Regardless, in the end, the innkeeper found room for Jesus. What do we do when Jesus interrupts our life?
- Simeon and Anna: You may not see them in your everyday Christmas pageant, but these two ordinary people faithfully anticipated the coming of Jesus, against all odds.
- The Wise Men: There were most likely more than three, but these men sought Jesus at great personal sacrifice. We can learn a lot about generosity from these men — we give gifts to each other and to the work of the Lord as a celebration. Our King has come and His joy overflows from our hearts to our hands and into the lives of others.
Darling also shares insights into the song of the Angels, the shepherds, Herod, Simeon and Anna, Zechariah and Elizabeth, as well as gives a detailed look into the surprising people in the lineage of Christ.
“All the characters of Christmas point, not to themselves, but to the central figure in the Christmas narrative, Jesus, the One whose birth, life, death, and resurrection change everything,” says Darling. “This supporting cast allows us to get a closer look at the One who is worthy of our worship.”