Danial Darling discusses the group of misfits, societal outcasts, and overlooked characters in the Nativity story. God used each one of them for his divine plan and why is worth thinking about more than once a year. A look at Daniel’s new book “The Characters of Christmas.”

Daniel Darling has authored books on practical faith and relatable theological issues. His latest book, “The Characters of Christmas,” focuses upon the everyday people of the Nativity story. He talks with Dr. Jeremiah Johnston about the work.

“I loved working on all my books,” he says. “This last one was really fun and 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, Darling 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,” he says. “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,” Darling takes a closer look at teenage Mary, her betrothed, Joseph, her cousin, Elizabeth, Zechariah, the shepherds, and more. “Each character points us to Jesus and tells us something about who God is, and the Kingdom of God,” Darling says.

While Christians rightly focus upon the story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, the story of the manger has its own rich, theological implications, Darling says. 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.

“One of the things Christians need to do is meditate deeply on the story of Christmas and who Jesus is,” Darling advises. “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?’”

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 latest book, “The Characters of Christmas,” was released in 2019.