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The Christmas Promise

December 18, 2017

Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16). “No word from God will ever fail.” (Luke 1: 37)

The most important promise ever made and kept was made to King David during his reign in the 10th century B.C.: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16).   It was the Davidic Covenant commonly understood throughout the ensuing centuries to be God’s promise to send a Messiah to his people through David’s lineage.

Christmas is a celebration of the fulfillment of God’s promise to David and his greatest gift to mankind: the birth of the Messiah.[1]  Using Google Maps, we can “see” a bit into the future.   Our computing devices can estimate our arrival at a given place to within a few minutes. But when God made his promise to David, he could see all of the events and people over the centuries that would bring that promise to fruition. God could see in one sweep, the moment of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and beyond. God’s view is over the millennia, not over the course of a few hours. Our view is limited in scope. His is limitless.

The psalmist explains that God’s plan to send a Messiah through David’s line springs from his great love for David and for his people: “I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever . . . I will declare that your love stands firm forever . . . I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, ‘I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations . . . I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail. I will establish his line forever’” (Psalm 89: 1-4, 28-29). His love for us is boundless and limitless, which is why he kept his promise.

Jesus’ lineage to David can be traced through both Mary and Joseph. Jesus’ biological link to David through Mary is found in the third chapter of Luke, while his legal claim to the throne through Joseph is documented in Matthew. Jewish genealogy was patriarchal, and for that reason does not mention Mary in either Luke or Matthew, but Mary’s father is believed to have been Heli, mentioned in the Luke genealogy (Luke 3: 23). When the angel Gabriel visited Mary before she conceived, he told her that she would give birth to a son who she should call Jesus. He promised that “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1: 32-33). When Mary questioned how this would all take place, the angel told her that “No word from God will ever fail” (Luke 1: 37).   We know that God always keeps his promises, and that he will love us forever: “God’s love never fails” (Psalm 136: 1,2).

Paul reminded the church in Rome that Jesus’ life and death was consistent with the prophecies of old: “The message I proclaim about Jesus Christ [is] in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings . . . so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 16: 25-26).

Jesus, God’s Son, is our connection, our bridge to God. The curtain in the temple was torn in two when he died, symbolizing our ability to approach God directly.  We cross the bridge to God through faith. We are ushered into his presence through faith. We are surrounded by his warmth and love through faith. We are guided and helped by the Spirit who inhabits us through faith. This Christmas, thank God for keeping his promise to send Jesus, his beloved Son, to us as his messenger of love in the form of a babe in a manger.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan











[1] The Scripture texts for the Fourth Sunday in Advent are 2 Samuel 7: 1-11, 16; Psalm 89: 1-5; Romans 16: 25-27; Luke 1: 26-38.

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