“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them . . . (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.”
Part of a Larger Story
Christianity didn’t start with Christmas. Of course, Christmas is an important event. But the birth of Jesus is part of a much bigger story. If you are unaware of the greater narrative, you might miss out on the significance of all the presents and parties that go along with this Holiday season.
The bigger story focuses on the nation of Israel. In the second book of the Bible, the Israelites find themselves enslaved by the Egyptians. For 400 years, they cry out to God for their freedom—which is also called “redemption.” Finally, God sets them free, but they are not free for very long. The surrounding nations continue to oppress them until one day, the whole nation is carried off into captivity in Babylon. But God’s people hold on to the hope that they hear from their prophets, namely, one day God will set them free from all their enemies for good.
Around the time of Jesus’ birth, a priest named Zechariah believed that God was bringing all his promises to fulfillment. That is why he sang the song that you read at the beginning of this devotion. He believed God was continuing his story of redemption through the Messiah, Jesus. He believed that his son, John the Baptist, was going to prepare the way for Jesus. Finally, that Jesus was going to set God’s people free. And he was right.
You see, Christianity is a much bigger story than just the Christmas story. Christianity is a much longer narrative about how God is redeeming his people. And this story isn’t over yet. The same Jesus who came at Christmas promises to come back again to set us free from all our enemies, from sin, death, and all that is evil. Let’s join Zechariah and praise the Lord who sets his people free.
Jesus, I praise you for coming to rescue your people. Amen.