Malachi 4:5-6 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
The story of Jesus does not begin with His birth in Bethlehem. The entire Old Testament is the story of a people who were to be the heritage from which the Messiah descended. Their customs, the events of their lives, everything was all part of the greater story of Jesus. He didn’t just appear out of nowhere, the way was prepared for Him.
Hundreds of years before that night in Bethlehem under the star, God was already making it known through His prophet Malachi that He would send Elijah to prepare the people for their Messiah. They were not only expecting the Promised Messiah, but also His forerunner, who it so turns out was John the Baptist.
Before we can really understand the significance of the Christmas story, the ministry of Jesus, the death, burial, and resurrection – we have to understand that Jesus came from a real history of real people with real stories. His birth was foretold and expected, but it was also part of a larger narrative. To understand Jesus we must understand His people. Christmas is the climax of a promise given by God to His people, a promise to send someone to save them. He sent Himself.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
God isn’t just another person in life who goes around saying things He doesn’t mean. God cannot lie and He does not make promises He doesn’t keep. When He says He loves us, He doesn’t just leave it at that. He demonstrates it.
Do we understand what it means that God loves us? Do we grasp the heaviness of the fact that the one who created all things has affection for us? That He thinks about us? That He has a plan for us? He works in our lives, shaping us to be who He created us to be. He disciplines us when we’ve done wrong, just as a father disciplines his children so that they’ll learn right from wrong. God shows His love by being involved in our lives.
In an act that could never be confused for anything but love, God sent His Son to die a painful death of suffering on a cross, taking on our sin and giving us His righteousness, so that He could have a relationship with us. This act was not because we had done anything to earn His love, but because He just loved us that much.
When we struggle in life, when things just don’t seem to make sense, when we feel like no one loves us, we can look at all that God has done for us. Look to the forgiveness you’ve received in Christ, to the wonderful promises God has made, and to the Holy Spirit He’s placed in your life to comfort and guide you. He loves you so much that He can’t stay away from you. He’s crazy about you.