6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: A potpourri of seasoned and seasonal Biblical gems.


A. “God was in Christ…” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Two Ministry students were discussing the meaning of this clause in relation to an anticipated question in their New Testament class at College. They were contending that the clause is saying nothing more than what the rest of the verse is saying: viz. that God was “reconciling the world to Himself” in Christ.

This is true enough, but I prefer the reading “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.” There is a comma between the two clauses, spanning the time between Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and His offering of Himself outside the walls of Jerusalem.

B. “In Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

This follows on from the clause in the earlier hymn, “In Him all the fulness was pleased to (literally) take up dwelling” (Colossians 1:19).

Now we are told, “In Him dwells (present tense) the fulness of God, and you (plural) are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:9-10).

This second Colossian hymn puts us in mind of who Jesus is: the eternal Word of God (John 1:1-2); and the eternal Wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:30; cf. Proverbs 8:22-31).

C. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

“Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel,” (Isaiah 7:14) - “which being interpreted is ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23).

D. “You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

There is a children’s charity whose slogan is, ‘no child born to die’ - and I totally concur with the thought behind that sentiment. However, have we ever considered that Jesus our Saviour WAS born to die?

‘Christmas shines with Easter glory,’ suggests one hymn writer (D. T. Niles of Sri Lanka).

E. Bethlehem Ephrathah.

Bethlehem is the ‘House of Bread’. Jesus is the “Bread of Life” (John 6:35). It was from this ‘House of Bread’ that Naomi’s family fled during a famine.

It was to here that she returned, a widow with a widowed daughter-in-law, when “she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited His people in giving them bread” (Ruth 1:6).

Bethlehem is sometimes referred to as ‘Ephrathah’, which means ‘fruitful’.

Here Ruth found a kinsman-redeemer in Boaz: but we are left in no doubt that there was another potential redeemer of closer kin than Boaz (Ruth 3:12). That kinsman is never named, as having never done his duty towards Naomi’s family (Ruth 4:6).

However, there is One now named, through whose incarnation God Himself entered manhood to be OUR kinsman-redeemer!

It was to Bethlehem that the shepherds were guided by the angels, that first Christmas night (Luke 2:15-16).

F. The wise men were being guided by a star, but got lost, ending up in Jerusalem (Matthew 2:1).

But they did find their way again, to wherever Jesus now was (Matthew 2:9-10).

G. Balaam’s prophecy had spoken of Christ as both Star and Sceptre (Numbers 24:17-19).

Star (cf. Malachi 4:2; Luke 1:78; Revelation 22:16).

Sceptre. “Where is He that is born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). A fact acknowledged by Pontius Pilate in his inscription upon the Cross: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

H. Our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14).

The “Urim and Thummin” worn by the Aaronic High Priest represented “Lights and Perfections” - or, if we use the first as a noun and the second as an adjective (which is perfectly acceptable), “Perfect Light”.

There were some would-be priests not found in the genealogies after the return from Exile, who were told that they may not eat of the holy things - until a Priest bearing the Perfect Light be found (Nehemiah 7:63-65).

Now He is here, and His name is Jesus!

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