Christmas Began with a Promise
The Christmas story you know and love is only half the story. The awestruck shepherds, angelic hosts, manger stall, and Magi’s star are but one chapter in a wider story that began not in a manger, but a garden, not at the incarnation, but at creation. Indeed, Christmas finds its genesis in the book of Genesis where it all begins not with an angelic announcement but a holy promise.
Christmas Began with a Profound Promise
The first time the gospel graced the ears of men was in Genesis 3:15. Adam and Eve had just rebelled against their Holy Creator, and the Holy Creator God responded to their sin in a way they never expected: Mercy. Hope. Peace. A Holy God made a precious threefold promise that will sustain you this Christmas:
A Promise of Mercy
“I will put enmity between you and the woman…”
The Bible could have been only three chapters long. Sin. Judgment. Done. Instead, God responds with stunning mercy by promising to do the unthinkable and unbelievable.
First, He promises unthinkable mercy, declaring “I will…” intervene, not “I must…” or “I should…”. Out of the goodness of His will, He resolves to do something about sin. What He promises is unexpected.
Second, He promises unbelievable mercy, declaring His first act of mercy to make possible the impossible: “I will put enmity between you and the woman.” Naturally, each of us are enemies of God and at peace with Satan. By nature, we love darkness and not the light. We are sinners to our core. But God promises to supernaturally change our hearts to love Him and hate the enemy. How will He keep this promise of mercy? There is hope.
A Promise of Hope
“…and between your offspring and her offspring…”
What hope do we have of receiving God’s unthinkable, unbelievable mercy? Through the promise of an “offspring” who would be miraculously born of a virgin. You see “her offspring” is impossible. “Offspring” literally means seed, which belongs to men. The writer is showing us that “her offspring” will be a virgin-born descendent, which is echoed throughout the Bible. Isaiah prophesies of a virgin-born Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). Matthew applies this prophecy to Jesus (Matthew 1:23). Luke identifies Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a virgin (Luke 1:27). John identifies Jesus as begotten of the Father (John 1:14). Paul describes Jesus as son of God, born of a woman (Galatians 4:4).
This Jesus is the long-awaited promised hope of all the world. The Christmas Carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, captures well what happened that night: “The hope and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
A Promise of Peace
“…He will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
Jesus was born to die. He came to “bruise” or literally “crush” the head of serpent and in so doing, have His heel “bruised” or “crushed” in the process. This happened at the cross. The cost of Christmas was the cross of Christ. The price of peace was nail-pierced hands, a beaten body, gasping lungs, and a bleeding brow. For a moment, it appeared as if the serpent had won as Jesus cried out in agony on the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”
But as He drew his final breath, this seed of the woman decisively crushed the serpent’s head with immortal words: “It is finished.”
Jesus came to purchase peace for you. You can receive this peace, by acknowledging your need for His mercy as a sinner, turning from your sin and placing your hope in what He has promised to do, and experience peace likes you’ve never experienced before. This Christmas, doesn’t forget the other half of the story.
Dr. Kyler Smith, Senior Associate Pastor
Hickory Grove Baptist Church