The story of the coming of Jesus Christ into this world begins not in Matthew, but in Genesis. Our Bibles have one overarching theme: God’s relationship with man.
The first book of the Old Testament tells us how God made man in His own image and likeness.
The first book of the New Testament tells us how God became a man and lived among us as one of us: Emanuel – God with us.
For almost two thousand years now followers of Jesus Christ have had some kind of yearly celebration of His humbling Himself and coming into the world, reflections on His death, burial and resurrection, as well as recognition of His ascension or return to glory with God the Father.
Our weekly Sunday services reflect these. We meet on the first day of the week because that is the resurrection day and the day the Holy Spirit gave birth to the Church. We take the Lord’s Supper each week in remembrance of Jesus’ body and blood celebrating His sacrifice for our sins by His death on the cross where Jesus gave His own body and shed His own blood to save us from the condemnation our sins deserve. For us these things are not simply religious traditions that we keep, they are symbols of our faith and acts of worship to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They not only remind us of God’s love and grace to us, but also as we do these things, we have actual fellowship with our God. We participate in a spiritual connection together in the name of Jesus Christ with the Creator of the universe. As we do these things we express a part of our relationship with God that echoes the story of scripture.
This week is the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Over the next four weeks let’s take a journey through the Bible’s story of the coming of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Today we will look at the beginning of it all, when God created everything good, but then there was the fall. Next week, we will survey some of the key characters of faith in the Old Testament who God called and who were close to God and through whom God worked to bring the Christ into the world. Thirdly, we will hear God revealing His plan of sending the Suffering Servant our Savior through the prophets. Finally, Lord willing, we will join the gospel writers as they announce to us the arrival of the Christ, the Son of God, the Prophet, Priest and King who has come.
These are all familiar to us, like good songs we sing over and over. We need to repeatedly study them and reflect on God’s love shown to us in them. It deepens us. New things may broaden us, but repetition on precious things enrich us. There is nothing more precious than the Bible’s record of God’s gift of Jesus.
It all started before anyone was here on this planet. God foreknew and planned our redemption even before we were made. 1 Peter 1: 17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
When was He foreordained? Before the foundation of the world!
Ephesians 1: 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
When did God chose us in him? Before the creation of the world!
Jesus was there when we were put here on this planet. The Word, that was with God and was God, through whom all things were made that have been made, was there. We bear His image and He bears ours!
I have been captivated by this truth: God made me to be like Him. God… made… you and me… to be like… Him! Does that truth sink into us? Do we realize the awesome dignity and honor we are endowed with? While we must avoid the wrong conclusion: We are not God. And our divine nature depends completely on our relationship with God. Yet, this divine design that identifies who we are and what we are and where we came from is not just some religious myth, it is historic and actual reality. God made us in His image and God wants us to know Him and have a relationship with Him, not as His pets, but as His children.
This truth alone, makes us unique in the universe. It’s one thing to kill a cow, or shoot a deer, but it is quite another thing to kill a human being. Why? Because we are created in the image of God. After the flood, God told Noah in Genesis 9:6 Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.
Open your Bibles to Genesis 1. Here we have in broad strokes the biblical account of creation. We know where everything came from and who is behind it all. We also know that our Creator has His eye on us and bestows authority and blessings on us for our enjoyment, benefit and fulfillment.
Think of who you like and what it means to like someone. It’s enjoyable to be around people you like and who like you, is it not? We tend to do things we like, with those we like, don’t we? We make memories and have experiences together. Life with those we like and know is fulfilling and enjoyable, is it not?
But what about being around our enemies? What’s that like? Our whole demeanor shifts gears when we are in close proximity with those that hate us, or that we hate. When we are enemies with someone, we tend to recoil from being around them, don’t we? Living with an enemy, or even someone you highly disagree with, would make life unpleasant and stressful, would it not? Imagine being a devoted Democrat and rooming with Romney for a year. Or a staunch Republican living with Obama for a year. Perhaps you would not call each other enemies, but your disagreements would make for some difficult conversations, if you had to communicate.
Now, think about your relationship with God. How would you describe it? Let’s get personal: Do you like God? Do you think He likes you? How well do you know God? How well do you think God knows you? How much time to you spend with God doing things together and building memories and having experiences together?
Life with God, when we know and like Him is fulfilling ad enjoyable. Life with God when we resist Him and disobey Him makes for some difficult conversations with Him, and He with you.
Genesis chapter 2 shows that God understands our need for companionship beyond our relationship with God. There are both our identity as created in God’s image and our identity as creatures in need of fellowship with other human beings. We are designed for both. Our relationship with God is primary, our relationship with each other is secondary. If we have a healthy relationship with God we will have healthy relationships with one another, but if our relationship with God is broken, guess what happens to our relationships with one another?
Is there any doubt that that is behind the two greatest commandments? Number one is: Love God, number two is: love your neighbor. Jesus told us that on these two commandments all the law and the prophets hang.
As we close today’s lesson which is Part one of: He Still Came, let’s look at Genesis 3 and see how all that God created that was very good, experienced a tragic fall. Our once beautiful relationship with God was broken. Man moved from blessed by God in a perfect garden to cast out and dying in a cursed world. But even there, God still came.
Read Genesis 3 without comment.
Why is this place we live in such a mess? Where do you stand with God today? God says that He will create new heavens and a new earth, the home of righteousness, where He will welcome us into eternal glory and wipe away all tears from our eyes.
Hebrews 11:6 says: without faith it is impossible to please God, because those who come to God must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who seek Him.
Are you seeking God? I know this: He is seeking you!