God often uses ordinary people to accomplish His extraordinary plans.

Pastor and author Daniel Darling helps us take a fresh look at the greatest miracle in history in his book, “The Characters of Christmas,” focusing on the everyday people of the Nativity story.

“I enjoyed being able to dig into the Gospels and the story of the incarnation of Christ, and the ordinariness of the characters and how they were part of God’s sovereign plan for history.”

Like many people, Dan enjoys the Christmas season.

“We have a whole month to soak in the beauty and the wonder of the coming of the Son of God. If you think about it, it’s what separates Christianity from other religions. He is not a distant, angry deity. He visits humanity in Jesus. He loves His image-bearers.”

In “The Characters of Christmas,” we take a closer look at teenage Mary, her betrothed, Joseph, her cousin, Elizabeth, Zechariah, and the shepherds.

“Each character points us to Jesus and tells us something about who God is, and the Kingdom of God. While Christians rightly focus upon the story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, the story of the manger has its own rich, theological implications.”

“The announcement of the long-awaited Messiah came in a shepherd’s field among some of the simplest people in the culture, demonstrating God’s humble heart. The wise men represent generosity and going anywhere to follow Jesus. The genealogy of Jesus demonstrates that God values and uses women for His purposes, and He redeems stories. The coming of Jesus into Mary and Joseph’s lives shows that Jesus sometimes interrupts our plans.”

Dan explains why it’s important for Christians to meditate deeply on the story of Christmas and who Jesus really is.

“Let’s be so overcome with the joy of Christ, people will ask, ‘Why is it you love Christmas and why should I care about it?’”

Just as God used Mary, the shepherds, three wise men and more, we too can be a vessel for those who have yet to hear the greatest story of all.


Daniel Darling is the vice president for Communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is a pastor, author, speaker, and columnist. His book, “The Characters of Christmas,” was released in 2019.

Unlikely characters of the Nativity story

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