God wrote a story. It is the story from which we get all other stories. This story begins not at creation, but long before creation in eternity past. Before the foundation of the world, God was there. Fully sufficient. Fully Satisfied in himself. Full of holiness, love, and might. The three persons of the one God – The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, have eternally existed in a perfect, loving relationship with each other. Then out of God’s loving, gracious nature he speaks his word into the darkness—into the empty void—and he creates.
He said, “Let there be light!” and light burst through the darkness. He created sun and moon and stars and animals and daisies and flowers and trees and rhinos and elephants and snakes and mosquitoes, yes even mosquitoes. Then God made his most treasured creation when he created man and woman in his own image. He makes Adam and Eve in his very likeness – in the very likeness of the Trinity. Man is made to display the glory of God and man is made to be in relationship, not just with each other, but in a relationship with God himself. So Adam and Eve lived in a perfect, loving relationship with God: father son and Spirit. Walking with God in the cool of the day. And this is what we were made for.
It didn’t take long in the story before man broke God‘s commandment and disobeyed him. Adam fractured the perfect fellowship with God that we were made to have. And sin has now brought a curse upon all creation and mankind. It has broken what was perfect. It has fractured our perfect fellowship with God and has brought us death and separation from God.
But God, in his love and mercy, did not leave us without hope. Even moments after Adam and Eve sinned we see a promise that God is going to make things right and that he’s going to send someone to destroy sin and death, so that we can once again walk with God in joy as we were made to do. And now all of history is moving towards this redemption that God would eventually come and heal this shattered relationship.
Every movement of this story is like a sign post pointing towards one person – our Rescuer – who will come to restore our relationship with God forever. If we move along in the story we find a man named Abraham, and God promises him that he is going to be the father of many nations, a people who will once again dwell with God forever. One of Abraham’s descendants is raised up named Moses. Moses is called to lead God’s people out of slavery in Egypt and into his promised land. And all along this wild journey God gives the people signposts pointing forward to that One who would redeem us and restore us to dwell with God again.
He set up the law, which exposes our sinfulness. He set up the tabernacle, God’s temporary dwelling place with the people. He guided the people by a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night to show that he was with them. He establishes a sacrificial system that temporarily dealt with the problem of sin in his people, even though the sacrifice of a bull or goat could never take away sin. He establishes the priests who would intercede for the people and make atoning sacrifices on their behalf. All of these designed to be signposts pointing us to our coming Redeemer.
Eventually God’s chosen people get into the land that God promised to bring them, yet even though God had faithfully been with them, they wandered into all kinds of rebellion against God, refusing to walk with God as they were made to do. They would come to reject the one true God as their King, and demanded to have their own King so that they could be like all the other nations. So God gave them kings. Many of these kings led them into deeper and deeper sin. Yet God raised one particular king, David, and made a gracious promise to David: Even though the people were rebellious and sinful, God would raise up for himself a King from David’s line to be king of an eternal kingdom filled with God’s people. And this king would sit on his throne for all eternity.
Throughout these years, God’s people received the Word of God from prophets who pointed them forward to the Messiah, the Redeemer, who was to come and reconcile their relationship with God again. God said to the people through his prophet Jeremiah, “the day is coming when I will make a new covenant with my people, not like the covenant which they broke. But in this new covenant, I will give them new hearts. I will forgive them of their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more. I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” God said to his sinful people through the prophet Isaiah, “The Lord will give you a sign. The virgin will conceive and a bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” which means “God with us.” And this son to be born will be a light to the nations who walk in darkness. And his name shall be called Wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace. And of his kingdom there will be no end.” Micah the prophet spoke of the One who would be born in a little town of Bethlehem, one who was from the Ancient of Days. He would be the shepherd of his flock, leading his sheep in everlasting peace.
Years went by, and they continued to rebel and broke faith with the Lord their God. God in his judgment exiled his people into the hand of sinful nations until the time when he would restore them and bring them back to their home. Even in their exile and rebellion, God had not forgotten his promise to them. He personally would come to them and redeem them, forgive them and restore the broken relationship that they had caused because of their sin. Yet, even in the midst of all of God’s promises to them, the people rebelled and the Lord removed his presence and fell silent for 400 years.
Then God enters his own story. For just like in the beginning of creation when the Word of God spoke and light pierced the darkness, the Word of God now became flesh, he is the light that has come to pierce the darkness. Matthew tells us how this happened, when an angel visited a humble virgin teenage Jewish girl named Mary and told her that she would bear a son and call his name Immanuel, “God with us.” It was exactly as the prophet Isaiah had spoke hundreds of years before. The angel told her that she should call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sin. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
In the days when Jesus was to be born, God in sovereignty had led Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, and it was there that she would come to give birth, not in a hospital with doctors, but in a stable with animals. And it is there, in that humble little setting that the Son of God, the Eternal Word, the one who had been foretold for centuries, the long awaited Rescuer, our Messiah is born.
The Word had become flesh. God’s plan to save the world was now in motion. And as Mary was holding her little baby, she was holding her own Savior and the King in her hands. The Son of God became completely like us in order to make us like him. He lived the life we were meant to live – and he lived it perfectly in our place, a life perfectly submitted to God the father. This Savior, would not just live in our place, but he would die in our place. The Word who took on flesh, humbled himself and laid down his own life for us, and died on a cross. In his dying, all of God’s condemnation that was meant for you and me falls on Jesus and he drank the cup of God’s wrath in our place down to the very last drop. He literally died because our curse for us, for as it is written, “cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.”
But he didn’t stay dead. The Son of God rose from the dead on Sunday morning, defeating our sin and death. And we are now forgiven and free! We are now reconciled to God as his adopted children. He is our God and we are his people. We are co-heirs with Christ. We are his church—his bride—called to take this good news to the world. And he promises that as we do he will be with us to the very end of the age.
And someday soon, the Son of God will come will to us again. This time, not as a baby lying in a manger, but as a conquering King riding in glorious victory! Our King will make all things new! He will ransom his people from every tribe, tongue, and nation and we will surround his throne for all eternity, worshiping the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Because he came to dwell with us at Christmas, we will now dwell with him for all eternity. There will be no more tears. No more pain. No more suffering. No more sinning. It will only be endless joy, peace, and love forever in the constant presence of Christ. He will be our God, and we will be his people. He will forever be God with us!