For the last 8 months, I have been excitedly waiting for the birth of my second child. Not a day goes by that I do not wonder what this child will look like or what his or her personality will be like. Nor does a day go by that I do not excitedly look forward to the day (I have a scheduled C-section December 16th) that I get to meet the newest member of our family!
At the same time I am giddy with excitement to hold, cuddle and love my child yet to be born, my thoughts during this pregnancy have often considered the great expectation of Christ’s birth. I’m over the moon excited to meet my little one, but can you imagine the hopeful expectation of His birth for those who lived before it happened?
The expectation of Christ’s birth wasn’t just for 9 months in Mary’s womb, but for thousands of years! Think about it!
At the very beginning, though fallen and tainted by sin, God gave Adam and Eve (and all humanity) the promise of a savior. Genesis 3:15 says, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” There is an anticipated hope of a Messiah that would come into the world to save us!
Throughout Scripture, prophecies announced not only that He would come, but the unique way in which He would arrive! In the book of Isaiah, it says, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
And not only do we learn of His birth, but we learn what He shall be called! We read later in Isaiah, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
Fast forward to the New Testament. In the book of Matthew, we read that the angel of the Lord visited Joseph and told him the following:
“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:21-23)
In the book of Luke, we read of Mary being visited by an angel and told the following:
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:26-33)
Can you imagine the emotions Mary felt? Can you imagine her expectations of carrying not only a child for the first time but for carrying THEE child? I’m sure she too, like all mothers, wondered what her child would look like and be like. I’m sure she too, like all mothers, couldn’t wait until she finally got to meet, hold and love on her child.
But to carry the Son of the Highest? To carry a baby boy whose kingdom there shall be no end? The hopeful expectation of the coming Savior for all of humanity was in her womb!
Finally, the day that not only Mary and Joseph were looking forward to, but people for thousands of years arrives. Jesus is born in a manger.
After His birth, shepherds in the field were visited by an angel of the Lord. And what did the Angel say? “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)
Lastly, one of the most striking accounts recorded of the longing and expectation of Christ’s birth is that of a man named Simeon. In Luke, we read the following account:
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:25-35)
Simeon has been waiting for this moment his whole life. In fact, as it says in Scripture, he was told that he wouldn’t die until he saw this little baby, the Lord’s Christ. Imagine the joy Simeon felt upon finally having this hopeful expectation fulfilled!
In a few weeks, we will gather with family and friends and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The long awaited arrival of His birth fulfilled the promise made in the very beginning in the garden. As you prepare for Christmas, may you reflect on Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments, and the expectation and fulfillment of the only reason to celebrate – Christ’s birth!