When we think of Christmas, we go to the gospels or maybe the Old Testament prophecies that told of Christ’s coming. This Christmas season let’s dig a little deeper and see what the Apostle Paul said about Christ’s birth. While never wrote at length on the subject, he does tell us some things that are critical to understanding who Christ is and why He came. In Romans 9, Paul outlines God’s plan of redemption by highlighting Israel’s role.
They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. Romans 9:4-5
The Not-Christmas Part of the Plan
Paul says quite a bit in a very short space. While each of the items deserves an extensive explanation, we’ll just stick with a skeleton of the plan. (Of course, feel free to chase your own footnotes. It’s good stuff!)
The Adoption – In grace, God chose a people to call His own. And the Old Testament makes clear His people were to be a light for all people to come to know Him.
The Glory – God showed His glory to Israel and then dwelt with them.
The Covenants- God entered into an unbreakable relationship with His people.
The Law – God revealed His character and holiness through His Law. His plan also prescribed a way of life that would set His people apart from all others.
The Worship – The sacrifices, feasts and offerings underscored the worthiness of God and the poverty of His people. The worship celebrated all the aspects of His character and His works.
The Promises – God made promises to His people that He would remove their sins so that they could enter into His rest and their inheritance.
The Patriarchs – These (the promises, the worship, the Law, the covenants, the glory, the adoption) have been passed down so they were not limited in scope by time or geography, but reflect the eternal, unchanging God who declared them. The patriarchs set the example of faith, trusting God would do all that He promised.
The Christmas Part of the Plan
The key piece of God’s plan was removing the sins of a sinful people. His justice demanded the sins must be paid for. He couldn’t simply indulge us and look away. His love moved Him to protect us from having to make that awful payment.
His grace … and the Incarnation, that is Christmas, resolved that conundrum. God took on flesh. I know, it sounds crazy. God laid aside His glory long enough to become one of us so that He could then become one with us.
While he doesn’t spell it out explicitly, Paul tells us that at Christmas, the Plan leaves the drawing board. Faith has its first taste of sight in the manger in Bethlehem.