Most really good stories have a good backstory – a way for us to see and understand the main character of the story before the events of the story unfold.
The Christmas story is no different. For centuries, God had been offering abundant clues into the Main Character of His story about the redemption of all humanity.
God revealed that He would be born in the city of David, also known as Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). God also told us something amazing… impossible… miraculous – this Ruler/Redeemer would be conceived and born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). This same verse revealed that this Main Character would be known by an unimaginable quality – “they shall call His Name “Immanuel” (which means God, with us).” (from Matthew 1:23). The prophet Isaiah was inspired to tell us that God would send a son, to grow up and become the One who governs over His people, with justice and righteousness – “And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (from Is. 9:6) And: “Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end.” (Is. 9:7)
It was revealed that the “Holy One” would be resurrected from the dead (Psalm 16:8-10). He would walk the ground in Galilee, and be a great light to the nations (Isaiah 9:1-2). He would be proceeded by a forerunner (Isaiah 40:3-5). He would have a ministry of healing (Isaiah 35:5-6). He would have a divine “anointing” to proclaim hope to the impoverished, and to heal, and to liberate those in captivity (Isaiah 61:1-2).
And most of all, He would be the suffering Servant, bearing our sin and guilt – afflicted for our afflictions, and punished for our misdeeds…
We could go on (there are over 300 Old Testament prophecies proclaiming the attributes and characteristics of the Messiah).
The point is that God, throughout covenant history, had been telling His people about a Redeemer/Ruler who was going to come to earth and bring a new kind of government with Him. A government of peace and prosperity. Of justice and righteousness. A government governed by the rule (and goodness) of God Himself. A government that was based upon the ever-present reality of “God, with us.”
For centuries, God had been telling the backstory of the One Who would burst onto the stage on that first Christmas night. Bringing such new hope. Such a wonderful new way of living life – beneath the canopy of God’s limitless favor.
But would the world “make Him room?” Would His own people even recognize Him? Just how would we know for certain He had come?
At the heart of Christmas is faith… faith based on the promises of God. Faith based upon the goodness of a God Who longs for us to know His love intimately, openly, and permanently. Faith in the fact that God had no problem “laying aside His Godly privileges” to become one of us so that He could build an eternal connection with us.
He had given us centuries of clues… now the fullness of the mystery was about to be revealed…