Consider the words of the hymn #92, “Joy to the World, the Lord is Come”. This is sung at Christmas as a carol, but surely we see that many if not most of the things claimed in that carol are yet to be fulfilled. The carol is truly joyous mostly in its hope of anticipation of it’s final consummation, when earth does indeed “receive her king”, not it the past Christmas manger or in the present world of sin and sickness and strife and sorrow.
What is the birth of little Jesus in Bethlehem all about? Our hearts are struck with the innocence and hope of that moment. For the thinking and spiritually sensitive, our gaze eventually moves from the manger scene across the teachings of Jesus the man, to the cross of Christ over 30 years later, and His eventual death to pay for our sins – to reconcile us sinners to God. “Jesus our savior did come for to die.” And this is true and blessed and a gracious favor and it is right. But if we were to limit the work of Christ and Christmas merely to an innocent making atonement for our sins, we’d be cutting out and focusing on just a portion of a much bigger picture.
You see, the Christmas story begins not in a manger, but in a garden. And it also doesn’t end at the manger or even the cross. It ends in a kingdom and a new mankind and a gloriously restored earth, ruined by the fall, and in an Israel resting and rejoicing in her fulfilled promises, and in an utterly defeated Devil and all his evil works in mankind and in nature. The god of this age ends up dethroned, a forever imprisoned and tormented creature, a shamed and treasonous rebel against all that is good and right.
You see, Christmas is the hinge point of God’s story of redemption. The door of history swings from garden glory thru Adam’s ruin and human misery in history and the present, to a greater glory in a better garden and a last Adam. But it surely and securely swings on the hinge of the incarnation of God in the flesh, Emmanual, Jesus, in Bethlehem. Christmas proves that fallen man in Adam cannot self-rescue, but that a better Adam a perfect man, sent afresh from the Father, can rescue us all, and with us, the whole of creation in Himself.