So in the spirit of Advent, we’re answering the question “Who needs Jesus?” Why was it so important for Jesus to be born? Why do we celebrate that? Last week, we looked at our fundamental problem: sin. We saw how Jesus came to solve our problem of sin, giving us a pretty good reason to celebrate His birth. This week I want to approach it from a different angle. Why did it have to be Jesus?
Like last time, it’s best to begin in Genesis. In Genesis 12:1-3, God calls a lowly man named Abram and sets him apart in a very unique way. Up to this point, there have been several diverging lines that pop up. We looked at one last week (the woman’s seed from the serpent’s), and there are a couple more. But with Abram, the split is more pronounced. God calls this guy and promises him, no strings attached, to bless him, make his name great, and turn him into a mighty nation. He promises Abram that he’ll be a rod of blessing to friends and cursing to enemies. In the end, through Abram, all the nations of the earth will be blessed! Subsequent reiterations of this promise add in the idea that his “offspring” would reap these same benefits (see v. 7 of this chapter).
Well, Abram grew to become a great man of faith, eventually having his name changed to Abraham. From him eventually comes the nation of Israel. They wind up enslaved in Egypt, but God miraculously frees them and calls them to be His people.
Being His people was no ho-hum ordeal. They were “Abraham’s children” and as such carried with them the great promises that God made to their father. He drives this point home from the beginning of their formation as a nation in Exodus 19:5-6. In short, He wanted them to be a “peculiar people” who were vastly different from all the other nations. They were to stand out. To bless the earth in their difference-making. To show what the salvation of God can do.
But things didn’t end gloriously for Israel as a nation. From the time they crossed the Red Sea to the time that the final king of a split kingdom was led into exile, the “holy nation” acted in an unholy way. Time after time they were tripped up by sin. Time after time God would punish but forgive. Still, as the Old Testament closes out, it looks dolefully at the holy people and looks instead to a coming Messiah.
Enter Jesus. Born in a manger with only animals and shepherds to witness His coming to earth, He grew up and did what the nation of hope and holiness couldn’t: live a perfect life. Where Israel failed, Jesus prevailed. Where Israel stumbled, Jesus jumped the hurdles. In the end, not even Death itself could hold Him down. Turns out it wasn’t necessarily a peculiar people that the world needed, but a peculiar person.
This seems to have been God’s plan all along (see Galatians 3:16). Now, all who look to this wounded, but triumphant Savior are grafted into His family and are brought into the inheritance promised to Abraham’s offspring. Now the Church has become the “peculiar people” (see 1 Peter 2:9). Although we are held to a high standard, too, we don’t see ourselves as the hope for the world. We leave that honor to the peculiar Person who was born in a smelly manger on Christmas night…