The First Christmas Message
by Bob Burridge ©2023
The first Christmas promise didn’t come to the world in Bethlehem. It wasn’t the announcement to Mary that she would bear the Promised Messiah. The first Christmas message in the Bible was made in the Garden of Eden.
In Genesis 3:14-15 God told Satan what would come from his temptation of Eve.
14, “The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Satan’s attempt to ruin the human race set the scene for the unveiling of God’s amazing plan of Salvation. The fall into sin didn’t spoil God’s plan. It became the means by which God would reveal his amazing grace to save the unworthy. The result would be God’s judgment and ultimate defeat of the plans of the Devil.
This hope continued through the time of the birth of Jesus.
It was the hope of those who brought God’s promise to his people in each era. Galatians 3:16, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring’, who is Christ. ” The promise of “your offspring” to Abraham was just of ONE: The Christ, the specially Anointed One.
The words Messiah and Christ both mean “The Anointed One“. The Old Testament Priests, Prophets, and Kings were anointed by sprinkling water on them. That set them apart for their special office. The Hebrew word for “Anointed One” is “Meshiakh” (מָשִיחֵ). In English we say “Messiah”. The New Testament Greek word for “Anointed One” is “Christos” (Χριστος). In English we say “Christ”. Jesus was specially set aside by God’s decree to be the redeemer of God’s people.
The promise was repeated by God’s Prophets. Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” The name “Immanuel” is two Hebrew words “Immanu El” (צסנו אל) which means “with us, God”.
The ancient promise even predicted the place where the Christ would be born. Micah 5:2, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”
The hope extends to the final crushing of the head of the serpent (Satan) at the end of this era. Jesus is coming again. 1Thessalonians 4:16-18, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.?
Today Christmas often puts the focus on things other than the birth of Jesus as the Christ, our Savior. There are the usual decorations common at Christmas time: Christmas trees, wreaths, candles and colored lights, poinsettias, presents, Santas & elves.
At Christmas we should keep our focus on the fulfilled promise of our Savior. We should celebrate the continuing benefit that promise presents to us today. We should celebrate the hope of the yet to come complete fulfillment of God’s plan for his people.
The presents we give and receive should remind us of the great gifts we have because of the work of our Savior. We’re encouraged by the promises of God extended to us unworthy creatures by his unmerited grace. We should be thankful as we exchange gifts with those God’s brought into our lives as friends and family.
Christmas trees are based on the “Evergreen Tree”. They say green through the icy cold winters. They can remind us of how Jesus remains with us through the adversities and challenges we face at times. Some also say it represents the “Tree of Life” in the Garden of Eden.
The colored lights of Christmas should remind of how Jesus is the light of the world. We should be lights to the world too as we spread the good news of the Gospel, and as we try by God’s enablement to live as he teaches us in his word.
Wreaths are those circular decorations reminding us of a circle of life. There’s no real end of life for those resting their hope in the promise of eternal life we have in Christ.
We often see “nativity scenes” which in most cases confuse the way the Bible describes that scene. For example the “wise men” didn’t arrive in Bethlehem until about a year later. They can still remind us of how God stirred many to come to worship this promised Savior. (See the 4 articles in our “The Truth About Christmas” index.)
Sadly “Santa Clause” has been deified to know if we are bad or good and rewards children accordingly. The original Saint Nicholas was a mere human who’s said to have dropped bags of money down chimneys to help those who were poor and could not care for their own needs. It’s said that he was one of the Bishops at the first Council of Nicea where he opposed the heretic Arius. Arianism denied that Jesus was eternally part of the Godhead.
At Christmas time we should keep our thoughts centered on the fulfilled promise of the Savior. Jesus came into our world to complete God’s promise of a Savior, a Messiah. From that first promise in Eden, down through all of human history, God reveals his glorious plan to us. There have been judgments revealing God’s wrath upon those who have stood against him. There was the revealing of God’s grace and mercy by the suffering of our Savior in his people’s place. There is the hope that for all eternity God’s redeemed people will rest in heavenly glory. From Eden to Bethlehem many eras later, and to us today, God’s promise should be made clear.
Don’t let the world’s confusion about the birth of Jesus keep us from celebrating what really took place. Use that special season of the year to remember God’s amazing promise and plan. Seize the opportunity to spread the good news of the gospel that stirs us to humble repentance, true biblical worship, and the striving of all of us to living daily for God’s glory.
Note: Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.