Often, when we think of Christmas, we think of Santa, presents, Christmas trees and family fun and laughter. To a lesser extent, we also think about the manger, the Christmas star and the birth of a savior. However, one of the things that gets lost in the shuffle is why we need a savior and where we would be without that savior. So, when I received the opportunity to review If He Had Not Come from David Nicholson, I was looking forward to having a new tool to share with my children about the importance of Jesus.
I received a large, beautiful hardcover edition of this book with beautiful illustrations similar in style to the illustrations on the cover and clear readable text. The hardcover edition of this book retails for $18.95. I was excited because I knew upon seeing it that this was going to be a great addition to our collection of Christmas books for years to come. This book does have a good bit of text, and would be best for ages 6 and up. I read it to all four of my children, who are ages 9, 7, 4, & 3, but it did not hold the preschoolers’ attention at first reading.
In this story, a little boy has been listening to his Dad about Jesus from the Bible on Christmas Eve, and he goes to bed pondering a phrase from the book of John, that says “If I had not come…”
The morning that he wakes up to is a world without Jesus. There is no Christmas, no presents and no tree. There is no Bible after Malachi. Even worse, there are no churches, no homeless shelters, and no people to love and care on others with the love of Jesus. Just as this awful day is coming to a climax, the little boy begins to hear his Momma calling him. It’s Christmas morning and he had just been dreaming.
After I read this book to my children, they were full of questions and discussion (that they initiated) about the book. They wanted to know if there really is a phrase in John where Jesus was saying what life would be like if He had not come. So, of course we looked up John 15:22, which said,
If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
This is in the context of a passage where Jesus is telling His disciples how the world hates him and how the world will hate them for being his followers. In the midst of that, he basically tells his disciples that if he had not come, unbelievers would have been able to use the excuse that they didn’t know any better and would have received him if he had come. Now, the unbelievers have no excuse.
So, we discussed how Jesus came to save us and how we have no excuse for not believing and for not showing love to other people because of what he’s done for us. We talked about how in the story the people were excusing themselves for not loving and taking care of others because He had not come. We discussed how our lives would be different without Jesus because we’d have no hope. There were a great many things we could have continued to discuss from this book, and didn’t get into.
In the back of the book, there are some discussion starters, some great ideas for Sunday School teachers and children’s church leaders for using this book in a lesson or series for Christmas. Not only is this book going to be part of my Christmas tradition at home from now on, it’s also going to be a book that I recommend for other Sunday School teachers (and will use myself) as part of their Christmas lessons.