I am eagerly anticipating Christmas, partly because I am homesick for Christmas treats and the joy of my dogs unwrapping presents, but mostly because I have been reminded lately about the incredible gift given to the world through Christ. Christmas is a day that represents our God entering the sinful world of man to walk among us, show us how to really live and ultimately pay the penalty for our sins, through which we can receive salvation and everlasting life with our Creator. What a day to celebrate!
But in our world, kids anticipate presents, cookies and snow angels, and we become distracted by the stress of family gatherings and expensive consumeristic holiday practices. Our world replaces preparation of the heart, with preparation of the tree; true meditation on the Word of God, with preoccupation with Christmas movies; and overwhelming joy in our newborn Savior with Elf on the Shelf. Christmas is about something else entirely, and has been for thousands of years – the arrival of Christ Jesus our Savior.
I want to draw you back to the times of Isaiah, King David, Jeremiah – a time when God spoke to His people through prophesy and promised the ultimate gift of grace that would save the world. Did you know that Biblical scholars estimate that Jesus fulfilled anywhere from 44 – 300 prophesies in the Old Testament?! What an heap of evidence that our God is faithful!
From prophesies that foretold of Jesus’ Abrahamic lineage in Genesis, to his mother and the specific names by which he would be called in Isaiah, to the location of his birth prophesied in Micah, and even the horrifying details of His crucifixion written in the Psalms – the people of God were told quite a bit about the first coming of Christ, and then spent hundreds of years eagerly awaiting Christ’s arrival.
Now THAT is anticipation.
Can you imagine faithfully dwelling on the promise that Isaiah prophesied? For your whole life? Always waiting for God’s promise to be fulfilled? What if we flip that on its head, and you are the great-great-great-great-great-grand offspring of an Old Testament Israelite, alive when Jesus is born?! Wouldn’t that be an incredible promise kept?
Though we know that many of the Israelites denied Christ’s place in the Godhead, as we reflect on scripture and the incredible promise fulfilled by our God through His son Jesus Christ this Christmas, doesn’t it snap your heart into a condition of anticipation?
I ask you this Christmas to set aside the stress and worry about our worldly celebration of Christmas. Spend less time devising your next Elf on the Shelf shenanigan and spend more time in Scripture remembering (or realizing for the first time) how almighty a gift our baby Jesus is. This December 25th is the celebration of a life-giving promise fulfilled by our creator – a promise of grace and mercy and a God who walked among us – Immanuel.