A New Beginning
The central piece of Christmas celebrations is by far unwrapping presents on Christmas Day.
Have you thought about why it is that we wrap presents? Men, in my experience, are not great at wrapping presents. Not only do we usually botch the job, but we also find it entirely unnecessary altogether. Why should I go through the trouble of wrapping a present (the paper, the tape, the bows, the folds) if the recipient will tear into it? It feels kind of wasteful. And yet, life cannot merely be functional, devoid of beauty.
But beauty is not the only reason we wrap presents. There’s also a mystery. And the unfolding of mystery goes in both directions and happens simultaneously but in balancing acts. Think about it. When someone is unwrapping a present, both the giver and the recipient enjoy the event. But the giver enjoys being one step ahead of the recipient while the recipient enjoys the suspense and surprise. The whole thing is shrouded in mystery.
Christians have always maintained that the greatest gift God has given the world is Jesus Christ. And in meaningful ways, this gift comes in special wrapping, full of mystery, wrapped in Scripture and the history of God’s dealings with humankind. And it’s our job to unwrap it, understand the mystery, and put the pieces together. And the layers of unwrapping that we can do as it relates to savoring and understanding the gift of Jesus Christ are endless.
Starting Over with Noah?
Have you ever had the impulse to start fresh, to have a clean slate, a new beginning? People often want a fresh start. Things have gone wrong, and we want a clean slate. Or we look at how much is wrong with the world, and we wish we could start over. Of course, it’s not that simple.
One of the clearest examples in history of a new beginning for the world was the flood in Noah’s day.
Why did the flood come on the earth? Because of the wickedness of humanity. Genesis 6:5 says,
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
So God brought the flood in which only Noah’s family survived.
But after the flood, did the earth get a fresh start? Did a new beginning come for humanity? No. In fact, as you keep reading in Genesis, you see in Genesis 9 that Noah and his sons, along with their offspring, perpetuate the sin of their forefathers, culminating with the rebellion at the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11.
So why did God not bring another flood or another means of judgment? Because of God’s covenant. A covenant is a promise voluntarily turned into a solemn obligation. God had promised that he would never again destroy the earth by a flood.
Genesis 9:11 says,
I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.
After the flood, people did not change, and they did not become good! What changed after the flood was God’s disposition toward humanity. Listen to what God says after the flood:
And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done” (Genesis 8:21).
Do you see it? Before the flood, Gen 6:5 says that every intention of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually. And after the flood, Gen 8:21 says that the intention of man’s heart was evil from his youth. Humankind didn’t change. What changed after the flood was God’s disposition toward his creation. The evil in the human heart was the reason for God’s judgment in the flood. And then the evil in the human heart was the reason for God’s mercy after the flood.
The evil in the human heart was the reason for God’s judgment in the flood. And then the evil in the human heart was the reason for God’s mercy after the flood
Why Christians Celebrate Christmas
There was no new beginning after the flood. Humanity continued to murder, to hate, to turn away from God. So God began to make a series of covenants with his creation so there could be a new beginning. And that’s why we celebrate Christmas because The new beginning is found in Jesus alone.
You can’t change the environment enough. You can’t change nature enough, and you can’t even change history enough to produce a new race. People have tried. Political, military, and philosophical leaders have all advanced their ideas of creating a new world. What do you think Nazi Germany was doing? They were attempting to create a new race, a new world. But sinful people will only create new sinful conditions.
The world has always needed someone who is holy, innocent, unstained, set apart from sinners, and exalted above the heavens (Heb 7:26). And that is Jesus Christ. He’s not a superman. He’s both God and man. He came from God to bring God’s kingdom from above down to the earth below.
Many people can’t wait for 2020 to be over. We long for a fresh start. But the new beginning we desperately need is spiritual, internal, of the heart, and it can only take place when we look away from ourselves and put all our trust in the God-Man, Jesus Christ.
The new beginning we desperately need is spiritual, internal, of the heart, and it can only take place when we look away from ourselves and put all our trust in the God-Man, Jesus Christ
There will be another day of reckoning between humans and God (Luke 17:26). God is putting off that day of accounting, of judgment, so that more and more people may find refuge in His Son. Do not squander your opportunity to get right with God. God does not promise us tomorrow. Turn away from your sin. Turn to Jesus for refuge. We cannot find the new beginning we long for in that job, that man, that woman, that gadget or toy or thing. Amazon cannot deliver it to your front step. The new beginning is found in Jesus alone.