December 21 I Friday
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” —Matthew 1:21
Since the earliest days of human history, the people of God had been expecting a Saviour. After Adam and Eve fell into sin, part of the curse God placed on the serpent was, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel” (Genesis 3:15). When Eve gave birth to Cain, her firstborn son, she likely assumed she had just given birth to “the man” who would fulfill the promise God had made. Little did she know she held in her arms not the Messiah, but the boy who would grow into the world’s first murderer.
Year after year, century after century, Jewish women who became pregnant would wonder if their child would be the promised redeemer. Somewhere along the way, the expectancy that God would intervene in world affairs transformed into a national hope. The Jewish expectations surrounding the Messiah were molded by 400 years of captivity in Egypt, and nearly 800 more years living under oppression from first the Assyrians, then the Babylonians, then the Persians, the Greeks and finally the Romans. The Jews came to believe the Messiah would be a mighty military leader who would throw off the dominion of these world powers and restore to Israel her dignity, independence and status as God’s means of blessing the world. Their expectations had become very distant from the reality of what was to be.
What the Jewish people thought and hoped for is very typical of human nature. When we feel we have a great need, we sometimes mold God to the shape of that need and then expect Him to meet it. When He does not, we may grow angry, but the reality is we have simply invented our own Jesus. We limit Him to be a problem solver or a bank of provision instead of letting He
who sees the whole picture fulfill His perfect strategies and purposes.
At Christmas, we celebrate the day the Messiah was born, but John writes of Jesus’s coming, “He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). They did not receive Him because He did not meet the Jewish people’s expectation of what the Messiah would be like. Jesus did not arrive to the pomp and circumstance of a military hero’s welcome. He did not come to save Israel from national oppressors through horses and swords. Jesus came to crush Satan’s head, to redeem us from sin and to open the way to personal relationship with God. Any other expectation diminishes the importance and breadth of what Christ came to accomplish.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the Messiah, and I thank You that Your mission involved so much more than one kingdom or people. Thank You for saving me from sin.