Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:45)
One of our favorite family stories is about the time my husband’s cousin made a particularly ambitious Christmas list. He copied down practically every item from a thick toy catalog. Then he added one final request: surprises.
Many of us go to great lengths to pull off a Christmas morning surprise. Even now, you may have gifts hidden away, tucked into nooks and crannies, or delivered to a neighbor’s house for safekeeping. Perhaps you’ve hunted down a gift that’s nearly impossible to secure. Maybe you’ll be up late on Christmas Eve doing a last-minute assembly.
Surprises can be delightful to give and receive, creating a sense of wonder and excitement around Christmas. But as we enjoy them, it’s good to remember that the advent of Christ wasn’t meant to be a surprise. God had been promising his people a serpent-crushing offspring from the earliest pages of the Bible (Gen. 3:15). The real story of Christmas isn’t a story of surprise but of fulfillment.
The real story of Christmas isn’t a story of surprise but of fulfillment.
Through the Old Testament prophets, God revealed quite a bit of information about the coming Messiah. Jeremiah said he would be a king from the line of David (Jer. 23:5–6). Micah foretold he would come from the town of Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2). Isaiah said he would be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14). Years ahead of time, God promised his people a Savior and gave specific details about his coming.
So when Philip went to share the news that Christ had come, notice what he said: “We have found him of whom Moses . . . and also the prophets wrote” (John 1:45). He didn’t say, “Surprise! God sent a Savior.” He said, “We have found him.” They knew the Messiah was coming. They were expecting him. Finding Jesus, for them, was confirmation of God’s faithfulness.
And that’s the story of Christmas for us too. The advent of Christ is a vivid reminder that God does what he says he will do, down to the last detail. Don’t skip over the details the Gospel writers record about the birth of Christ. It’s not extra fluff to fill out the story. In Matthew’s account of Christ’s birth, five times he writes something like “This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet” (see Matt. 1:22; 2:5, 15, 17, 23). Why does Matthew repeatedly point out the fulfillment of prophecy? Because it shows us God’s faithfulness.
The advent of Christ is a vivid reminder that God does what he says he will do, down to the last detail.
God’s faithfulness in the Christmas story gives us hope in our own stories. Just as God promised to send Jesus, he promises to be with us now through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus came the first time, he promises to come again. We can look forward in hope, confidently anticipating Christ’s second coming and the fulfillment of his promises to dwell with us forever (Rev. 21:3).
God may not give us everything on our wish list, but we can be sure he’ll fulfill all the promises he has made. Great is his faithfulness!
How have you seen God’s faithfulness to you in the past? In what areas of your life are you struggling to believe God’s promises? What might it look like for you to find hope in God’s faithfulness today?
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
– Thomas Chisholm, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”