December 17, 2019
by Peter Amsterdam
Each Christmas, as we commemorate Jesus’ birth, we are looking back to the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises in which God vowed to send a savior into the world. As we mark this glorious event, we rejoice at the miracle of His conception, the circumstances of His birth, and are filled with wonderment that the Son of God entered into our world, taking on human form. We rejoice that God sent His Son, the Savior, to come and change our lives forever.
While we look back to the coming of the Savior, Old Testament believers looked forward in anticipation to the time when the Promised One would arrive. Let’s review those promises which pointed to the Savior’s coming.
The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen.1
The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.2
To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom.3
I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.4
“I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”5
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD—and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.6
You, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.7
God’s people in the Old Testament looked forward to the fulfillment of God’s promises. Even though they didn’t see those promises fulfilled, they believed that God would do all that He had pledged to do. However, we who live today are able to look back and celebrate the fulfillment of God’s promises. Jesus, the Son of God, the promised Messiah, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, came into our world as our Savior and reconciled us to the Father by taking our sins upon Himself.
Jesus’ birth was the beginning of that process, and His death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven brought it to fruition. As we celebrate His birth as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, since there were no rooms available in Bethlehem on the night of His birth, we rejoice knowing that He left the splendor of His Father’s side to change not just our lives but our eternity. His was a life of sacrifice, being away from His Father, becoming human, suffering crucifixion and death, all for our sakes. As we celebrate the joy of His birth, let us also reflect on who He is and the effect He has had on our lives, and those of countless others. And let us rejoice and be grateful for His love and willingness to leave the splendor of heaven for our sake.
You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.8
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.9
Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.10
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. … For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.11
Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.12
When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”13
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.14
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.15
May we all have a blessed Christmas as we celebrate the birth of the One who gave His life so that we may live in God’s presence forever. And may we each share the love and truth He bestowed on us with others, so that they too will come to know Him and the power of His saving grace.
Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
1 Deuteronomy 18:15.
2 Isaiah 7:14.
3 Isaiah 9:6–7 NIV.
4 Numbers 24:17.
5 Psalm 2:6–8.
6 Isaiah 11:1–4 NIV.
7 Micah 5:2 NIV.
8 2 Corinthians 8:9.
9 1 Timothy 1:15.
10 1 Timothy 3:16 NIV.
11 Hebrews 2:14–15,17 NIV.
12 Philippians 2:5–8.
13 Galatians 4:4–6.
14 Hebrews 4:14–16 NIV.
15 Colossians 1:15–20.