Scripture doesn’t tell us much about Jesus’s childhood—just that it happened, and that he never sinned. But what was it like to be the sinless son of God, a perfect child in a fallen world, born to a mother to whom some fragrance of disgrace must have clung?
Walter Wangerin, Jr., writes a beautiful book about those years. Told from Mary’s perspective, Wangerin imagines the child Jesus asking again to hear the story of his birth. We see his trust and her faith, as again she tells him what we call the Christmas story, but what was, to him, his story.
Like Peter’s First Easter (also by Wangerin), this is a longer picture book, full of human emotion and honesty. Reading it, we’re not tempted to think That’s how it was, but That’s how it could have been. The characters’ responses ring true and point us back to what we do know about those years: Jesus was God made flesh, a holy and perfect God bound by all the limits of humanity—and childhood. And his mother was young. She trusted God. Whatever it cost her she said, on our behalf, “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
In other news, The Good Book Company (the publisher that brought us the wonderful Tales That Tell the Truth series) shared a list this week of 7 Christian book reviewers to follow in 2021—and they were kind enough to include me in the list! If you’re on the lookout for good books (as I assume you must be if you hang out here), I encourage you to browse the list and get to know the other reviewers—there are some excellent reviewers on the list, and all of them were new to me!
Mary’s First Christmas
Walter Wangerin. Jr.; Timothy Ladwig (1998)