All through Christian history those who have studied the Scriptures have engaged in what is called typology. In short, typology is seeing the meanings and pictures that lie underneath the surface of what is being presented. Paul does this in Galatians 4 when talking about Abraham’s wives and what they represent; we are told in the gospels that Jonah is a type of Christ; we also see Jospeh as a type of Christ; the elements within the temple foreshadowed things as well; the bread, the light, etc); and many other examples. That doesn’t mean the actual events weren’t true and were only told for the sake of typology, but part of the beauty of plunging the depths of Scripture is the fact that there can be many layers to a passage.
Now, not all typology is clear-cut and much is open to interpretation. And that’s ok. It is a blessing for the people of God to wrestle through passages of Scripture together to discern its potential meanings. We grow closer to God together this way, and we learn more about the infinite depths of our God.
So I wanted to briefly look at some potential types given to us in the Christmas story.
We see Mary coming into Bethlehem on a donkey carrying the Messiah. This also seems to be foreshadowing the Messiahs triumphal entry on a donkey into Jerusalem. Both accounts have a strong emphasis on the humility of the scene. This is not, in either case, how the Messiah was expected to enter this world.
We also have Mary and Joseph in a cave (this is what the stable would have been. We may often mistakenly think of it as a barn) and she wraps the baby Messiah in cloths. Many have acknowledged in this scene the foreshadowing of the burial of Christ and His being wrapped and buried in a cave (the tomb).
We also see the the Angels coming to Shepherds. The shepherds then go out and proclaim the good news to others. This is the job of the shepherds of the Church now, the pastors; to worship the Messiah and then to proclaim the good news.
One other thing I think might be observed is in the scene with the Magi coming to worship the Messiah. These are men of great wisdom and wealth (and presumably power), and I think in this scene there is the picturing of the wisdom, wealth, and power of this world being subservient to Christ.
These are just a couple stories within the story. Hopefully these examples, though maybe not elaborated upon eloquently by this present writer, maybe give us a little bit of an increased desire to study the Scriptures deeper to see what all might be there.
May God bless you this Christmas Day as we ponder the beauty and truth of the meaning of Christmas!
By, Samuel Brewer