The First Christmas Promise

 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)

What is the meaning of Christmas? Christmas is about the birth of Jesus! The birth of Jesus Christ (what we culturally know as Christmas) is one of the most important doctrines of the Christian faith and one of the most important events in salvation history. Sceptics will ask “If the birth of Jesus is one of the most important events in history, then why is it only mentioned in the gospels, and in only two of the gospels: viz., Matthew and Luke and only in the first two chapters, never to be mentioned again? If the birth of Jesus is so important, shouldn’t it be referenced throughout Scripture?” It’s true that the birth narrative is only recorded in the first two chapters of the gospels of Matthew and Luke . However, we would be misguided to think that Matthew and Luke are the only two places that the birth of Jesus is alluded to in Scripture. Case in point is Genesis. That’s right! The first reference to Christmas is in Genesis. Genesis 3:15 is a Christmas promise of Christ’s victory at the Cross. Genesis 3:15 is the promise of a Deliverer who would be the promised offspring in the godly line of Eve.

The birth of Jesus was the partial fulfillment of Genesis 3:15. What do I mean? When Jesus was born it was a fight to the finish between Satan and Jesus. Satan knew very well, in part, the general meaning of the prophesy. He knew that Jesus came to crush his head (win the war) and that at best all he was predicted to do was to bruise Jesus’ heel (win the battle). Satan, I’m sure, said “Nonsense! I’m going to crush his head before he can crush mine.” So as soon as the eternal Son of God became a little helpless baby in the manger, Satan said, “Finally, I got him! Finally, God is within my grasp.” We all know the story of this conflict. King Herod the Great (one of the spiritual offspring of Satan) lashed out at Jesus, doing Satan’s bidding. Herod’s demonic enmity resulted in the murder of all male children ranging from the ages of two and under. God warned Mary and Joseph of Herod’s infanticide, and they were able to escape to Egypt. 

Satan came back again and again and again throughout his public ministry. Finally, Satan had whittled down Jesus’ support, so much so that the spiritual offspring of Satan was greater in number than the offspring of the godly, so great that even Jesus’ inner circle abandoned him. In fact, Satan had one of his spiritual offspring operating as a double agent: Judas Iscariot. At the right moment Satan stirred Judas to betray Jesus. And Finally, Satan had him right where he wanted him. Things unfolded according to Satan’s plan: arrested by night, trial before a kangaroo courts (one by night and the other by day). He was then flogged; he was sentenced to death. He was forced to walk to Golgotha where he would die, forced to carry his own cross (an instrument of torture and death); they nailed him to that rugged cross; and there he died. It finally looked as though Satan had won the war, that he in fact had crushed the head of Jesus. But something happened; on the third day Satan realized that he hadn’t crushed the head of Jesus (the promised deliverer). He realized that he had only bruised Jesus’ heel, that he had not defeated Jesus once and for all, crushing his head via the cross. Satan realized that the death of Jesus on the cross was just a bruising for Jesus, while it was a crushing defeat for him. John Gerstner wrote this about Satan’s momentary triumph:

“Satan was majestically triumphant in this battle. He nailed Jesus to the cross. The prime object of all his striving through all the ages was achieved. But he had failed. For the prophecy which has said that he would indeed bruise the seed of the woman has also said that his head would be crushed by Christ’s heel. Thus, while Satan was celebrating his triumph in battle over the Son of God, the full weight of the Atonement accomplished by the Crucifixion came down on him, and he realized that all this time, so far from successfully battling against the Almighty, he had actually been carrying out the purpose of an all-wise God.”

Beloved, this is the gift of the first promise of Christmas way back in the Garden of Eden. That gift was the gift of salvation secured at the cross. At the cross Jesus defeated Satan, crushing his head, while only bruising his heal: that is, at the cross Jesus won the war of redemption by losing the battle through crucifixion! 

Christmas is not about gifts, and food, and parties, and Hallmark cards and movies. Christmas is about a promise kept long ago in the Garden of Eden, a promise to save us “from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.” A promise of “glad tidings of comfort and joy.” If you have not trusted Jesus as your Lord and savior—if you have not trusted in Jesus as Adam and Eve, and as all of the other godly offspring have throughout sacred history— I bid you to do so now! Amen! 

In Christ

Carl

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