It is that time again. Thanksgiving has past, and many have already frantically begun to prepare for Christmas. The sales are on, the shoppers are swarming, and the decorations are going up. The preparation has begun, but none of it can compare to the preparation that took place for that first Christmas.
In order to get ready for Christmas it is always helpful to prepare our hearts by thinking of what it must have been like for those of the household of Israel who had been waiting for the Messiah. It all started right after the fall when God told Eve that there would be a seed that would have His heal bruised by the serpent, but He would ultimately crush the serpent’s head. Already, God was promising a remedy for the spiritual death they had brought upon themselves, and all subsequent generations, and also for the physical death that was working in their bodies at that very moment.
As time went on God’s people were taught many things about this coming one who was going to redeem them from the wages of sin. To name a few, they were told that He was going to be born in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2), He would be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14), and He would speak in parables (Ps. 78:2-4). On top of all that, He would be hated without reason (Ps. 35:19), He would be spat upon and stuck (Is. 50:6) and He would be pierced (Zech. 12:10), all to save His people by being a substitution for them in order to make atonement for their sins (Is. 53:5). Then in the darkest hour He would be resurrected (Ps 16:10, Ps 49:15).
The prophecies had been progressively revealing details regarding the coming Messiah, and although they did not fully understand it, it gave them hope. But the promise of a Messiah, who was to redeem them from the grip of sin, is not the same as actually having Him present and knowing His name. Those among the Hebrews who really believed must have constantly been wondering who He was going to be and what His name would be. Jacob had wrestled with Him, and when Jacob asked Him his name He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name? (Gen. 32:29),”and he was left in mystery. Later, Samson’s father Manoah Spoke with Him, and though he did not fully understanding at the moment with whom he was speaking, he also asked Him His name and the response was “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful (Judges 13:18). For the name was not to be revealed until the fullness of time.
With such wonder, hope, and speculation, they lived for thousands of years, including an approximately 400-year period of time, following the prophet Malachi, where God seemed to go silent. Then that faithful day came when an angel of the Lord appeared to Mary and said, “you will conceive and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.” His name would be Jesus, and He would save His people from their sins! The wait was over. Sinful humanity was to be redeemed, and the one who was to do it was going to be named Jesus!
Oh, how we have sung His name for thousands of years. How long we have known the only name under heaven by which man can be saved. How long it has filled our hearts with joy. We have not only known His name and His teachings, which are and endless supply of light and life, but we have also known Him because He is still with us today, and will be with us always, even unto the end of the world.
As we already know, He bore our sorrows and carried our grief. He took upon Himself our sins, thus ending the condemnation that the law demanded, and He imputes to us His righteousness, making us co-heirs in the inheritance that He so rightly deserves, and we most certainly do not. None of the rapturous joys that fill the believer’s heart would be the same, had it not been for His birth in that lowly stable when God himself took on flesh.
It is easy to be swept away by all the trappings of the season, but the believer must not lose the infinite worth found in Christ, in all the paltry tin of secular add-ons. As you prepare your home this season, be sure preparation is made to spend time with your savior through meditation on His word and prayer, for no heart is as full as the heart that is filled with Christ.
May the Lord bless you this Christmas season,