The Christmas story begins in an unexpected place. If asked, many would say the story begins with the Gospels in the New Testament, maybe with the appearance of an angel, a visit from the wise men, or with Mary hearing of her pregnancy. However, the need for and the hope of Christmas is first seen in the Garden of Eden. By putting Christ’s birth in the larger storyline of Scripture, we get a greater sense of its significance.
Rather than fleeing the temptation to doubt God’s Word, Adam and Eve flirted with the lie of the serpent. They disobeyed their Maker. Adam traded his constant contentment and satisfaction in the Almighty for momentary pleasure that led to destruction. We feel the pangs of this tragedy every single day. The curse of sin has plagued every area of our lives. We are bound up in Adam, and death has come through his sin. The apostle Paul tells us that by our nature we are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).
God vividly explained to Adam that his sin had ushered pain, agony, and death into a world that was previously without blemish. As a result of the curse, thorns and thistles abounded. Adam was made from dust and was destined to return to it. His sin disqualified him from enjoying the constant communion and access he previously experienced with God. Adam and Eve stood as unrighteous sinners before a righteous God, and so they were forced out of the Garden of Eden.
The Hope of a Serpent-Crusher
But thanks be to God, the story does not end with a curse. God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Here in this sentence, only a few chapters into the Bible, we see the hope that Christ would come and crush the serpent, defeating sin and death. Genesis 3 marks the commencement of the anticipation of a King to come, a King who would free us from the curse of sin.
Genesis 3 goes on to say that Adam and Eve were driven out to the east of the Garden of Eden, with a cherub placed there to guard the garden. Sinners could not dwell with the Lord, though His redemptive plan to reverse the curse of sin was already in motion. God’s covenant with Abraham would be the means of universal blessing.
The Lord then raised up Moses to lead the people out of bondage, to deliver them from the hands of Pharaoh. He led them through the desert, even as they whined and wandered. He gave them the land of Canaan, the land that He had promised them. But the people were not content and wanted to be like the other nations. We see this particularly in the period of the judges, when everyone did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:5). Still, God kept His affection on His people.
The Need for a Greater King
He later raised up kings, like Saul, David, and Solomon, but due to their sins and weaknesses they were not the One through whom the curse would be reversed. The people of God continued in sin. They continued to craft and worship idols, and they were quick to give away their affection to anything other than their Creator and Shepherd. The consequence of this sin was exile. Yet, even in all this, God promised comfort and peace that was unlike anything the world had ever seen. The people of God waited and longed for this Messiah told of by the prophets. The Old Testament ends and there were 400 years of silence.
The Word that Broke the Silence
At just the right time, the Word “became flesh” (John 1:14) and Jesus came to redeem His people. Adam and Eve were forced out to the east of Eden because of sin. However, when we get to Matthew 2, we read, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’” In Adam, we are far off and cast out, but in Christ, even at His birth, sinners are brought back to God.
Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus overcame the world, the flesh, and the devil. But He didn’t do it in a way the people of God expected. He did not overcome the world as a politician; He did not overcome the world swinging a sword as a militant. He reversed the cursed by becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:13).
Adam fell prey to the mentality of questioning God’s Word. He thought he had the right to declare himself captain of his own soul. Jesus, on the other hand, fulfilled all righteousness by obeying His Father, even to the point of death on the cross. He took our condemnation so that we would not have to.
He Comes to Make His Blessings Flow
Jesus is our Triumphant King who came to bring joy to the world. Genesis 3 paints the picture of thorns and thistles suffocating the fallen creation, but Jesus overcame the world and we know that His resurrection will mean the end of all sorrows.
Now we can exclaim, “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found.”
Jesus has reversed the curse and His blessings flow far as the curse is found. And this gift is available to anyone who turns from sin and trusts in Him. This is the good news we celebrate at Christ’s first coming, even as we await the day when Christ will come again so that we might experience the fullness of His joy for all of eternity.