READ: Zechariah 9, Acts 5-6, 1 John 5

GOD WITH US

There are certain things we know. We know these things because God came near and lived with us, because He lives in us by His Spirit, because His Word is our counselor (Psalm 119:24). John tells us that we know we have eternal life, we know we are of God, and we know the Spirit of God has come and given us understanding (1 John 5:13-20). We have the advantage of seeing these things from this side of Bethlehem. Zechariah saw these things from the dark. He too knew that the whole world was under the sway of the wicked one (1 John 5:19), but in that darkness he saw a dawning light.

God looked down from heaven and observed that evil encroached everywhere. He saw with His eyes and made a determination to come down and “camp around His house” (Zech. 9:8). God came near. God invaded earth and set up a perimeter defense around His people. Humanity was overwhelmed by the shadows of darkness, unable to resist the massive demonic forces pressing into heads and hearts. God came down and set up a wall. Our king came to us lowly and riding on a donkey (v. 9). Jesus in vivo rode a donkey into Bethlehem and then later into Jerusalem. Both were astonishingly humble rides. Jesus came to earth to defend us. Christmas is our relief and our defense. Our King comes to us to protect us from sin, self, and Satan. Zechariah prophesies, “The Lord their God will save them in that day. . .they shall be like jewels of a crown” (v. 16).

Incarnation was the invasion of God into His own dark, rebellious world. Christmas represents our rescue–we know we will be delivered but there is still a battle to fight. Christmas is knowing we are doomed, our back to the wall, enemy hoards flowing over the gates, death only minutes away when our King in brilliant light rides over the crest of the hill and smashes through the demonic hordes to stand next to us. We are yet surrounded, but God is now with us, ankle deep in blood and mud with fire in His eyes and an arm swinging His flashing sword. It is in this context that John reminds us faith is the victory that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4).

Shockingly the world is not overcome by prayer. It is not overcome by church planting. It is not overcome by evangelism. It is not overcome by power encounters. It is not overcome by our witness. The world is overcome by faith, and “he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God overcomes the world” (v. 5). Christmas is about faith–the belief that Jesus is God, that God came to dwell with humanity, that God will defend us, that God will defeat evil. We participate in the victory of Christmas by believing that God will do it again. He will come again soon to culminate His victory. On that day, not only will He be with us, we will be with Him forever.

If hobbits can have a second breakfast, then we certainly can look forward to a second Christmas.

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