It is that time again. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and many have already frantically begun to prepare for Christmas. The sales are plentiful, the shoppers are swarming, and the decorations and music add warmth everywhere you visit. However, even with all of these things, we can still miss Christmas. To help prepare our hearts, please take a moment with me to imagine what it would have been like to live during a time when they could not celebrate Christmas because it had not yet happened. A time when they did not know the Savior’s name.
It all started immediately after the fall when God told Eve that there would be a seed that would have His heel bruised by the serpent, but that same heel would ultimately crush the serpent’s head. Already, God had promised a remedy for the spiritual death they had brought upon themselves and all subsequent generations. The promised child would also be a remedy 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 the future one who would redeem them from the wages of sin. The prophets foretold 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). Along with that, He would be hated without reason (Ps. 35:19), He would be spat upon and struck (Is. 50:6), and He would be pierced (Zech. 12:10). He would do it all to save His people by being a substitute for them to make atonement for their sins (Is. 53:5). Then in the darkest hour, He would walk victoriously out of the grave (Ps 16:10, Ps 49:15).
The prophecies progressively revealed details regarding the coming Messiah. Although His people did not fully understand them, they gave them hope, but having the promise of a Messiah who was to redeem you from the grip of sin is not the same comfort as knowing his name and having that redemption finished. Those among the Hebrews who truly believed longed to know His name and see their salvation. Jacob wrestled with Him in His pre-incarnate form, yet when Jacob asked Him His name, he refused to tell him (Gen. 32:29), so the mystery continued. Later, Samson’s father, Manoah, spoke with Him, and though he did not fully understand at the moment to 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). These events were shrouded in mystery, for the name was not to be revealed until the fullness of time.
They lived with such wonder, hope, and expectation for thousands of years, including 400 years following the prophet Malachi where God seemed to be silent. However, the mystery of His name ended the day an angel of the Lord appeared to young Mary and said, “You will conceive and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus, for it is he who will 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 an endless supply of light and life, but we have also known Him personally because He is still with us today and will be with us always, even unto the end of the age.
He bore our sorrows and carried our grief. He took upon Himself our sins, thus putting an end to the condemnation that the law demanded, and He imputes His righteousness to us, 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 of Christ in the spectacle of secular add-ons. We are living in one of the most blessed times in human history. The mystery of Christ has been revealed. As you prepare your home this season, be sure to prepare your heart as well. Spend time with your Savior by spending time in His word and prayer, for no heart is as full as the heart that is filled with Christ. And if your heart is grieved this season, you might need to worship him this year in a more quiet manner, but do not fail to worship him, for a longing heart is part of what Christmas is all about. Just as the believers in the Old Testament waited for his first advent, we are waiting for his second. We can celebrate Christmas with broken hearts because Jesus, who was born that day, will one day return and dry every tear from our eyes.
May the Lord bless you this Christmas season!