And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene. (Matthew 2:23 ESV)
There are many things that come to mind as I prepare myself to celebrate Christmas. The desire to bless friends and family with the joys of presents and time well spent together is always stronger this time of year. This season is one that promotes contemplation, generosity, and excitement about what is yet to come. As I prepared to write this letter, in the ebb and flow of our family and church life, I sought that one thing that gave me the most comfort in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season. What is it that brings a sense of contentment and satisfaction regardless of circumstance? The answer came in one word. The answer is fulfillment.
The word fulfilled appears 54 times in our bible. It is found 25 out of 54 times in Matthew, Luke, John, and Acts. The Gospel according to Matthew contains the most occurrences of this word at 7 while the other books mentioned use it 6 times each. Why is this important? Five out of the seven times that Matthew uses the word fulfilled it speaks of how the Scriptures were fulfilled by Christ. The other two occurrences have to do with peoples response to the ministry of Jesus (Matthew 13:14) and the use of the blood money given to betray Jesus (Matthew 27:9). All this to say that the Bible makes the case that the person of Jesus Christ is the one that was promised would come from long ago. He is the person of whom the Scriptures testify. As we focus on celebrating his taking on of human flesh, let us remember that a faithful God made it so. A faithful Father sent his only begotten Son. A faithful Son humbled himself. A faithful Holy Spirit overshadowed a virgin and caused her to conceive the Savior of the world.
Christmas is a look back at a promise that was fulfilled. It is a recognition of all of the great blessings we have in Christ Jesus. It is a stirring of the awareness of God’s steadfast love for people. It is all of these things and more. Considering these things however, I am left with the impression that hope and confidence are as essential as all of the tenderness and love expressed through the birth of a child. The gospels and Acts contain half of the occurrences of the word fulfilled. All of these book have the ministry of Jesus Christ as their focus. The book of Acts focuses of the continuing ministry of Jesus Christ through the pouring out of his Holy Spirit upon his people. The point is that God is continuing to fulfill his plan through us! He is also sovereignly fulfilling his plans for us.
We can be confident that he will accomplish all that he has promised in his word. Christmas is a testimony of this. God will accomplish all that he has promised. One day we will be with him in glory forever. We will be unhindered by sin or the frailties of our present bodies. This hope rests on the proven character of God. He does as he says he will do. He fulfills his promises.
With brotherly affection,