8–14 January 2017.
If we take a very simple look at the Christmas story, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the coming of Christ was somehow just part of God’s backup plan. We read through the Old Testament and look at the way that Abraham and Moses tried to set the Israelites on the right path. But then we shake our heads at the way Israel failed so badly. They didn’t do what they were supposed to do, and everything went terribly wrong. So it’s easy to think that God, in his frustration at Israel’s many, many failings, takes things into his own hands and determines to come here himself and do things right.
But the problem with this simple understanding is that it reduces our Lord Jesus Christ to an afterthought, something like an emergency back-up plan that God only thought of when the main plan failed. That’s why for thousands of years, the church has strongly encouraged us not to think this way. Our Lord Christ is not a second-rate player in the history of the world, and he is not just an emergency Plan B. From the very beginning, the whole world and it’s history has been aimed at Jesus’s coming. Everything has been leading towards this.
That’s the point that John famously makes in the first chapter of his gospel, when he tells us: “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1). And it’s the same point that Luke teaches us here in Luke 3. By listing out Jesus’s long genealogy, Luke stresses that Jesus didn’t just appear out of nowhere; instead the entire history and journey of Israel has been preparing for Christ’s coming. Generation after generation, century after century, God has been leading Israel to this point.
And not just Israel. The Israelites look to Abraham as their beginning, but Luke stretches Jesus’s genealogy right back to the beginning of it all with Adam. That’s because Jesus comes not just to be the Lord of tiny Israel; Jesus comes to be the Saviour of all people, all children of Adam. Jesus comes to be the Saviour of the entire creation.
None of this is an accident. It was no last minute change. This is God’s great and ancient plan. In God’s eternity, this plan was prepared. And now in history, the time had finally arrived for Jesus to come and be the Saviour of the world.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis