In the fray of the Christmas season, there are many things that seek to capture our attention. Commercials and ads invite us to consume and purchase. Movies tell us this can be a magical season if we just believe, and it is the season for true love. Yet, what the commercials promise fail to keep us entertained or satisfied. The movies watched may encourage the longing of our hearts but they fail to reflect the reality of our relationships. The magic described in movies is nothing more than a mirage.
While these things fail to deliver on what they promise, we come to find Christmas is about a promise fulfilled. A promised fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Christmas is about the Lord over all creation and Savior of the world coming to earth as truly God and truly man. This is known as the Incarnation. Jesus’ coming to earth should not have come as a surprise, precisely because it had been promised. From Genesis 3 throughout the Old Testament, there is a hope for the promised seed to come (see Genesis 3:15). The promises of God to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) and King David (2 Samuel 7) were still waiting to see their complete fulfillment.
For this reason, Matthew begins his gospel account by listing the genealogy of Jesus Christ (1:1). Genealogies in the Bible tend to get overlooked and are often passed over. However, it is important to remember God has placed them there for a reason. We see in Matthew 1 God is showing how the promise He has made is coming to fruition in Jesus Christ. There is not time to go through the entire genealogy right here for the purpose of this devotional, but Matthew 1:17 sums it up for us, “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteens generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.” The long-awaited promise had arrived. Jesus Christ was the expected One. Since Genesis 3, humanity had been looking for an ultimate deliverer to save them. Although Abraham and David were faithful men, they fell short like everybody else (Romans 3:23).
Within their family line, though, the Ultimate Deliverer would come. Nobody could save themselves from the judgment and wrath of God but One was to come who would become a substitute for sinful humanity (Isaiah 52-53). This One was and is Jesus. He lived the perfect life humanity had not, He died on the cross in their place, and He rose again to ensure our reconciliation with God. The promise of His coming saturates the pages of the Old Testament and extends to the New Testament, like here in Matthew 1. The reason we celebrate Christmas can be summed up in three statements: Christ with us, Christ as us, and Christ for us. The Incarnation reminds us Christ came to earth. In order to die in our place, Christ came as one of us. Yes, He was truly divine but He was also truly human. That is why He could be our substitute, and that is what we learn in “Christ for us”. Christ came for us, to save us and reconcile us back to God. So, this Christmas season, meditate on Christ’s incarnation and thank the Lord He is a promise-making and a promise-keeping God!
- What promise have you believed that has failed to deliver, whether it be words from a friend or an item you’ve purchased from an ad?
- Read Genesis 12:1-4, 15:1-6, and 2 Samuel 7:4-17. Meditate on how these passages, among other Old Testament sections, promise the coming of Christ.
- How does understanding Christmas as “Christ with us, Christ as us, and Christ for us” help you to focus and hope during this holiday season?