The excitement that December brings into so many lives is a wonderful experience and reminder of God’s love and grace towards all mankind. While some have reduced this time of year to only commercial endeavors and opportunities, that is not true for all. Particularly, Christians can reflect during this season on God’s wondrous gift of a Savior. The Divine plan was more than just the aspect of a baby coming into the world, but extended to the sacrificial death of Christ on the Cross to bring salvation to all mankind.
God’s plan, designed in eternity past, unfolded throughout untold ages, for in the omniscience of God, it would be no surprise that the first two created beings, Adam and Eve, would sin and that would necessitate the coming of a Redeemer to reconcile sinful man to a holy God. Thus, God in the Person of the pre-incarnate Christ began to reveal the redemptive story of salvation. Prophets foretold the coming of a Savior, and as with all humanity, some believed God’s message and others did not. However, the plan was not deterred or aborted. “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5 NKJV).
The Apostle Paul wrote that to the churches in Galatia and in that one sentence, he swept across centuries of human history. The promise of a Savior was first revealed in the Garden as the pre-incarnate Christ pronounced the demise of the Deceiver … “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Gen 3:15 NKJV). Thus, God established a visual reminder of the consequences of sin – an innocent animal would have to die as a substitute in payment for man’s sin. The act of sacrificing had no merit in and of itself. The merit was in what the sacrificial offering represented—the innocent dying for the guilty. Faith in the coming Lamb of God would bring redemption and restore relationship with God.
The prophet Isaiah wrote that the fulfillment and culmination of all the sacrifices would be that of the Son given by God the Father. The promised Redeemer, first laid in a cradle, would go to the Cross on which He would offer Himself in order to reconcile mankind to God … “because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isa 53:12 NKJV).
Those who believed the message of the prophets no doubt shared the thoughts of Charles Wesley when he penned … “Come Thou long expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free; from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth Thou art; dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart. Born Thy people to deliver, born a child, and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, now Thy gracious kingdom bring. By Thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by Thine all sufficient merit, raise us to Thy glorious throne.”
He did come and John the Baptist in calling the nation to repentance from their dead religiosity had the privilege of announcing the appearing of the Savior. “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel” (John 1:29-31 NIV). Surely, much excitement followed that announcement and the good news of a Savior still brings joy to our hearts.