As a God of promise, God not only speaks his promises into existence, he speaks his promises into fulfillment. We see this throughout time and throughout his word. This Advent, as we await the coming of our Lord and Savior, we are happy to bring you a series of articles highlighting the multifaceted ways God has fulfilled his promises through the birth, life, and resurrection of Christ.
The devil didn’t see Christmas coming, and neither did we. A baby cooed in a feed trough not far from the great city of Jerusalem, yet millions of miles away from people’s expectations. He lay there wholly vulnerable to every condition. A dumb animal could have accidentally tipped him over, the cold from a drafty barn could have been too much, his mother could have died during childbirth. Sure, angels announced his arrival, but only to rough-handed shepherds working the night shift.
The devil knew the promise; he knew God had already spoken that a Son of Eve would crush Satan’s head, and in turn, Satan would bruise the Son’s heel (Gen. 3:15). So he probably stood guard near the holy city, near the wealthy houses of power-brokers, movers and shakers, and decision-makers. Surely he expected such a formidable adversary to be a fortunate son, a graduate of Harvard, or an expert in the martial arts. As Philip declared when he was first told that Jesus came from Nazareth, “Nazareth?! What good can come from there?”
Meanwhile, when Herod heard that a King was born, he wiped out all the baby boys of Bethlehem just to be certain. How surprised he would have been to see this dangerous king beaten and weak as his son observed thirty years later.
The baby Jesus escaped Herod and disappeared into a caravan to Egypt. Jesus was always on the move and in places no one expected him as Paul Simon sings in the Boxer,
“Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places
Only they would know”
When Satan finally caught up with him, he was standing amid a bunch of ordinary people scared of their ordinary sins. He waited patiently in line to be dunked by that crazed preacher John. Then Satan heard the voice of his enemy declare, “This is My Son, whom I love, with whom I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22b). So he followed him out to the desert, attempting to bite at his heels.
The Son of Eve disarmed Satan’s hold on humanity, not with an earthquake, atomic bomb, or brilliant essay, but with his dead body and final words, “It is finished.”
Like a clever lawyer, the devil questioned this unassuming man, “If you are the Son of God…” Did that lying snake want to convince Jesus to doubt his own identity like he did Eve? Perhaps the devil was wondering himself! Who would be threatened by this ordinary man? Where is the hammer, the lightning, the wrath of God? Surely this hungry, sweaty, everyman couldn’t hurt a flea.
Yet with gentle words, Christ had disarmed the Samaritan woman at the well and opened heaven to her. He touched the untouchable lepers and released them from their shame. He walked into Nicodemus’ house and lifted him from hell to heaven. Jesus was always where he wasn’t supposed to be.
Finally, on the cross, a Christmas gift was offered to mankind: a suffering God that did not strike back at his rebellious creation. The foot that crushed the devil’s head was limp and bleeding. The Son of Eve disarmed Satan’s hold on humanity, not with an earthquake, atomic bomb, or brilliant essay, but with his dead body and final words, “It is finished.” The devil missed it. We all missed it. A softball was thrown to Satan, and he hit a home run. But it was for the other team. Who would have thought that God would lose so we could win?
We still try to put God back where we think he belongs: a mighty throne, a stain-glass window, a judge’s chair. But he won’t have it.
With a humiliating death, Christ defanged the devil. The serpent’s bite no longer has teeth. The devil can shove your sins in your face yet with just a soft-spoken, “You are forgiven.” The Son of Eve crushes his accusations! As he did to Eve and to Jesus, Satan wants us to doubt our identity saying, “If you really are a daughter of God, why are you suffering? Why have you sinned? Why are you weak?” Yet the gentle voice of the Shepherd says to us as He did the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Christ continues to go to surprising places, into enemy territories and darkened rooms to sing, “Merry Christmas,” to prisoners of shame, fear, and death.
Christ continues to go to surprising places, into enemy territories and darkened rooms to sing, “Merry Christmas,” to prisoners of shame, fear, and death. He does it through little ole’ nobodies and not so eloquent preachers, Sunday school teachers, boys and girls, and namely, sinners. The devil doesn’t see it coming. Neither does the world. Like the first time, Christmas continues to be celebrated where no one thought it would.
And Eve smiles from heaven as her Son turns everything bad into good.