I'll admit it. When I think of Christmas, I usually picture Christmas cards, pretty lights and peaceful nativity scenes. Joseph, Mary and Jesus seem so quiet and serene in my mind. Even so, I want to remember the bigger picture behind that baby in a manger.
So I asked myself: How does God see Christmas? Perhaps He sees the battleground assault He waged against evil and injustice through His Son. He sent Jesus to earth to totally break the system then in place. Jesus came to deliver and restore and redeem. Jesus came to fight against evil and conquer death itself. Why?
That story goes back a long time.
God placed Adam and Eve in a perfect garden and asked them to tend it. In the evenings Adam and Eve walked with God. God gave them perfect freedom in this garden, with one stipulation. He commanded them not to eat of one specific tree.
But Satan, a created but fallen angel came to deceive the couple. His deception worked, and they ate from the forbidden tree. Then when God came to walk with them, Adam and Eve hid. Their choice had separated them from God. Sin and death had entered the world.
The plan of restoration
So what did God do? Did He resign himself to that separation? No. Instead, He revealed His astounding plan.
As God described the consequences of that first sin, He also promised to restore all things one day. But it wasn't going to be an easy solution. He said that Satan would strike the heel of the woman's offspring, but the offspring would crush Satan's head (Genesis 3:15).
The plan at work
How did God accomplish that promise? He started with a man named Abraham whom He called and eventually gave a son in his old age. Then out of that son came the nation called Israel. God chose Israel to be the instrument through which He would bring redemption to the world.
The people of Israel were to live as a people set apart. God called them to reject the paganism of their neighbors and instead worship the one true God, live justly and care for those in need.
Of course, the people of Israel often disobeyed. So God sent prophets to them. As the prophets called them to repentance, they would also share prophecies that pointed to a future Messiah – an anointed one who would save all people. For centuries, the people of Israel looked for the coming Messiah. And when the time was ripe, at a very strategic point in history, God the Father sent God the Son to earth.
In the fullness of time, Jesus put on flesh, was born as a baby, and lived on earth as a human. Jesus had to come because only God could right the fundamental wrongs of this world.
No human had ever lived a perfect life. But Jesus, as God and man, resisted all temptation, completely submitted to His heavenly Father, and boldly lived out His life's purpose. He lived a perfect and sinless life. He seriously challenged the religious status quo, blessed the poor and outcastes and sought out those who knew their brokenness. He revealed that He was God.
Of course, the leaders of the religious establishment did not like Him. They had
Him killed through one of the cruelest methods of execution in history – crucifixion.
Death is conquered
But here comes the great part of the story: Jesus didn't stay dead. He was put in a grave with a big rock in front of His tomb and a guard standing watch. But on the third day, He wasn't there.
Jesus hadn't just come back to life, He had defeated death. As the song Mighty to Save says, "He rose and conquered the grave."
He made it possible for us to walk once again in communion with God, for His own righteousness to cover our sinfulness. And to think – this triumph was possible because Jesus came as a baby. May it be that all of us choose His righteousness.
O come, let us adore Him
As we contemplate the Christmas story and see images of baby Jesus, let's remember that Jesus grew up. He grew up to fulfill His purpose to restore a broken world, to conquer the grave and sin forever, to demonstrate the Father to us. He came as a baby, but returned to heaven as the reigning King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 17:14).
As we celebrate Christmas, we sing "O come, let us adore Him." May it be that we adore Christ, the King who came to conquer sin and death on our behalf.
Blessings this Christmas season,