Merry Christmas: Seeing The Birth of Christ in Its Wider Biblical Context

By Elias Ayala (M.A.T. & Mdiv)

Every Christmas, families gather together to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christmas is usually a time to reflect upon the great gift that has been given man; namely, the Son of God who had come to die on behalf of sinners and so reconcile sinful men to God. However, the story of Christmas actually predates the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth. It is a mistake to focus on the birth of Christ in isolation to the wider context of scripture and messianic expectation. For the birth of Christ comes as a fulfillment of a promise that was given long ago in the book of Genesis, and in other portions of scripture. In what is known as the Protoevangelium, found in Genesis 3:15, we find the first real presentation of the Gospel message. It is fascinating that within the first pages of scripture, in seed form, we are presented with hints of God’s plan to redeem mankind in the sending of a seed who would rise and bruise the head of the serpent. Let us dive a little deeper into Genesis 3:15 by exploring the context, and then projecting this pre-gospel message into the future as it finds its fulfillment in the Person a Work of Jesus Christ.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (Genesis 3:15)

The context of this verse is the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Both have eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and were found hiding from God. As God calls out for Adam, Adam gives his defense before God by blaming the woman that God had given him. When Eve is confronted by God, she diverts the blame rightly due to her unto the serpent. As God proclaims judgment upon the serpent, He utters the above prophetic words over him thus alluding to a future time where the seed of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent. In others words, this serpent will be bruised, and in like fashion, the serpent will also bruise the heel of the seed of the woman. It is commonly believed that the seed of the woman who bruises the head of the serpent is none other than Christ himself. An interesting observation that seems relevant to the Christmas story is the reference to the women’s seed (i.e., “her seed”). In reality, the seed actually comes from the man, and hence the reference to the woman’s seed may be an implicit reference to the unique birth of Christ (Virgin Birth). Hence, we have vague reference in the beginning of a seed who uniquely arrives on the scene to bruise the head of the serpent who is understood to be the deceiver.

Considering the theological reality of the omniscience of God, there is no doubt that given God’s decree He had purposed from before the foundation of the world to redeem sinful man via the sending of his Son. Consider these words from the book of Revelation:

“And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain” (Revelation 13:8)

Notice that the author of the book of Revelation mentions names written in a book of life of the lamb who was slain. Surely, those names are the names of God’s elect people who he intended to purchase out of every tribe, tongue, and nation. It seems that it was always God’s intention to redeem lost sinners in the way that He has deemed fit. The means whereby He accomplished this involved the blessed incarnation of the Son of God who lived a perfect life and was a worthy sacrifice that successfully purchased sinners with His blood. What a glorious gift this is that God’s plan of salvation, revealed in the early pages of Genesis, came to fruition in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

This Christmas, let us see not just the isolated Christmas event which included the incarnation of Christ and his entrance into our world in a manger, but rather, let us see the wider context revealed in the entirety of scripture of God’s beautiful unfolding plan of redemption beginning in Genesis, and reaching its fulfillment in the promises of Revelation and the future coming of Christ to judge both the living and the dead. -Merry Christmas!

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