The Long-Awaited Christ

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is Christ the Lord.
—Luke 2:11

We begin our journey to the heart of Christmas by zeroing in on the word Christ. In a biblically illiterate culture, many mistakenly suppose that Christ represents the last name of Jesus. In truth, Christ is a title that comes from the Greek (Christos) rendering of the Hebrew word Messiah, meaning “anointed one.” As such, the Christ of Christmas is the long-awaited Messiah who fulfills all the types and shadows of the Old Testament Scriptures.

To fully grasp the significance of Christ’s messianic role, you must drink deeply from the wellspring of Old Testament prophecy. In Hebrews, as in the rest of the New Testament, the Old Testament history of Israel is interpreted as a succession of types that find ultimate fulfillment in the birth, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Christ we celebrate at Christmas.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul refers to Adam as a “pattern” (literally, type) of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:14). Likewise, Paul taught the believers at Colosse that the dietary laws, religious festivals, and Sabbath of the Old Covenant were “a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Colossians 2:17).

The interpretive principle of typology is equally persuasive in the Gospels. Christ’s successful resistance of temptation in the desert after forty days of fasting is a direct typological contrast to the disobedience of the Israelites that resulted in forty years of wilderness wanderings (Matthew 4:1–11; Mark 1:12–13; Luke 4:1–13). In remaining faithful to His Father, Christ did what Israel was unable to do. Christ is thus the true Israel, and all who are found in Christ are heirs according to the promises God made to Abraham (Galatians 3:29).

Moreover, Jesus is revealed as the antitype (that to which the type points) of the Hebrew prophets through His preaching of repentance, His ministry of healing, His concern for the poor and social outcasts, and His death near Jerusalem. Though like the prophets in these ways, Christ is shown to be greater than all the previous prophets in the manner of His miraculous ministry, His claims to be God, and the vindication of those claims in His resurrection. According to Luke’s gospel, Jesus Himself, “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets . . . explained to [his disciples] what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself ” (Luke 24:27). Today as you ponder the Christ of Christmas, remember that it is He alone who could emerge through the doorway of the Old Testament Scriptures.

Reading

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:11–14)

Questions

What is the meaning of the word Christ?

What are some of the Old Testament types and shadows that find fulfillment in Christ?

Christmas Carol

Joy to the World
—Isaac Watts

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods,
Rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessing flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.