If someone’s birth was predicted thousands of years ahead of time and then announced by a heavenly host on the night of his arrival, wouldn’t you consider this event extremely significant in human history? Yet for too many people, Christmas is simply a time for festive parties, decorated trees, and wrapped presents. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with these expressions—unless they replace the real significance of the celebration. The truth is, Christmas is more than an event; it’s a promise offered to mankind, and it originated long before that first Christmas night. In fact, God planned this entire event before the foundation of the world. He foreknew the coming child and all the details of His birth, life, and death (1 Pet. 1:20).
The first of a long line of promises regarding this child was given immediately after Adam and Eve sinned. The Lord told them that the “seed” of the woman would one day bruise the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). Though it took thousands of years for His word to be fulfilled, the “seed” finally entered the world right on schedule. Prophecies about this long-awaited child are found throughout the Old Testament, and with each one, we gain a greater understanding of who He is and what God has promised us.
When the Lord picked Abraham to become the father of His chosen nation, He promised that in him, all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:3). Then as Abraham’s descendants multiplied, the Lord identified the tribe of Judah as the line through which this promised One would come. Eventually, He revealed that David would be the ancestor of Israel’s coming King (Jer. 33:14-15).
The prophet Isaiah provided further details when he wrote, “Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). Since this name means “God with us,” it’s filled with the promise of His presence. Although the Lord had always been with His people, He was now planning to dwell with them in a very unique way: the eternal God of the universe was going to enter the human race through a physical birth, to live among His people as a man while never ceasing to be God. Immanuel would be physically present on earth, walking among His people, revealing the Father to them, teaching precious truths, showing them how to live, and healing the sick.
Although the Lord had always been with His people, He was now planning to enter the human race through a physical birth.
On that dark Christmas night, these Old Testament promises of His coming were finally fulfilled. But that wasn’t the end. When the Son of God came into the world, He brought more promises to mankind. Even His name carried a promise. When Joseph discovered Mary was pregnant, an angel appeared to him in a dream, saying, “The Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:20-21). The name Jesus is the English form of Yeshua, which means “Jehovah is salvation.” And that’s exactly what the Son of God is—the Savior who came to rescue sinful humanity.
When Jesus became an adult and began His ministry, John the Baptist identified Him as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). What a fitting description. This was Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth—to die as the sacrificial Lamb, thereby reconciling us to God. Even the place of His arrival was appropriate: the Lamb of God was born in a stable, and His birth announcement was given to lowly shepherds.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus made some very big promises. All who received Him would be given the right to become children of God (v. 12). In other words, believers are no longer God’s enemies but instead actually belong to His family. Jesus also promised to answer the prayers of His followers when they asked in His name and according to His will (John 14:13; 1 John 5:14-15). And He said those who were intimately united with Him would have fruitful lives (John 15:5).
On one occasion, Jesus called Himself the bread of life, saying that anyone who believes in Him would never hunger or thirst again (John 6:35). Obviously, He was not referring to physical food and drink, but to His ability to satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts.
Every year, countless people hope that the trappings and celebrations of Christmas will meet their emotional, relational, and physical needs. They think that if they can simply choose the right gifts, have the house decorated just so, and experience a harmonious family gathering, maybe it will fill the empty place in their hearts. But it never does—not completely—because they’ve missed Jesus. He is the only one who can truly satisfy a hungry soul.
This was Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth—to die as the sacrificial Lamb, thereby reconciling us to God.
But how can someone born thousands of years ago still keep such a promise? Although Jesus physically left this earth after His death and resurrection, He also promised not to leave His disciples as orphans: He would ask the Father to send His Holy Spirit to live in them forever (14:16-18). And that is still His promise to every believer today. Jesus Christ is not only our Savior; He’s our constant Companion, Comforter, and Guide, who will never leave or forsake us.
Christ’s promises don’t apply just to this life; they also give hope in death. Christmas can be especially difficult when you’ve lost a loved one. All the activities which once brought joy now bring a reminder of pain and loss. But Christ promises us that death is not the end.
When Martha’s brother Lazarus died, Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies” (11:25). That’s why Christ came that first Christmas night—to overcome sin and death. Now everyone who believes in Him has the promise of both eternal life and a resurrection body that will never again be subject to sin and death (1 Cor. 15:50-57).
Can you imagine the great reunion we’ll have when Jesus finally returns exactly as He’s promised? At just the right moment, He will gather us all together and take us home to the place He’s prepared for us (John 14:1-3). There will be no more mourning, tears, or pain when at last all the promises of Scripture are fulfilled.
This Christmas when you gather with your family around the tree, stop for a moment and worship the One who came as a baby and died as a man to give you everlasting life. When you see the presents, think of His gift of salvation. And remember that Christmas is a personal promise to you—a promise of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. If you can trust Christ to save you, surely you can believe every other promise He’s made. “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us” (2 Cor. 1:20).