The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

The champion

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Have you ever needed a champion? Perhaps you have faced an enemy against whom you have had no defences, or been oppressed and cruelly treated and have had no protection. You have been in danger but had no strength to fight; or trapped, with no way of escape. You have needed someone to stand on your behalf, someone to defend you and deliver you, strong to save you and protect you. You have needed a champion.

In truth, every one of us needs a champion in the truest and deepest sense. Mankind has an enemy, Satan. He is cruel, oppressing us in sin and misery, and we have no strength to defeat our pride, our anger, our lust, our loneliness, our shame, our grief, and our bitterness: we are enslaved, enchained. We are in danger, and he is dragging us down to the Pit. We are trapped in the dominion of darkness. We are fearfully exposed to punishment for our sins as those who have followed him.

This was true from the beginning, when Adam our father sold himself to Satan and cut himself off from God. But even then, God was full of mercy, and there at the dawn of time he stepped in and promised a champion to defeat our Adversary, a great victory at grave cost to himself:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Gen 3.15)

And then the world waited, looking for God’s champion. And, over time, more was revealed.

To Abraham, God promised a seed through whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed (Gen 12.3). Jacob identified Judah as the royal tribe from whom the sceptre should not depart, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes (Gen 49.10). Balaam, impelled by the Spirit of God, looked into the distant future:

I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult. (Num 24.17)

The Lord promised David that – after his death – he would establish the throne of the kingdom of David’s son forever (2Sam 7.12-16). Isaiah spoke of a God-given sign: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Is 7.14). He spoke of the response of the nations to this Servant of God:

Arise, shine; for your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
Lift up your eyes all around, and see:
They all gather together, they come to you;
Your sons shall come from afar,
And your daughters shall be nursed at your side.
Then you shall see and become radiant,
And your heart shall swell with joy;
Because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
The wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you.
The multitude of camels shall cover your land,
The dromedaries of Midian and Ephah;
All those from Sheba shall come;
They shall bring gold and incense,
And they shall proclaim the praises of the Lord.
All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together to you,
The rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
They shall ascend with acceptance on my altar,
And I will glorify the house of my glory. (Is 60.1-7)

Jeremiah spoke of a coming day and a coming King and Priest from the house of David:

‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah: In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness; he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’ For thus says the Lord: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually.’ (Jer 33.14-18)

Then there is Micah, who speaks of one who is himself eternal and yet comes forth out of Bethlehem to rule, shepherding the people of God (Mic 5.2).

Over time, the pens of prophecy sketch a portrait of increasing depth and detail, and a picture of the champion slowly emerges.

And still the earth was waiting.

And then, one night in Bethlehem, all the lines of promise converged in a child who was born of a virgin, the eternal Son of the Most High, and a true man; he was of Abraham’s seed, Judah’s line, and David’s house; he was the King of the Jews and the Gentiles bowed before him. In this Jesus, declared by angels to be Christ the Lord, all the threads of promise twisted into a single cord. Truly, Bethlehem, “the hopes and fears of all the years / Are met in thee tonight.” God’s champion has arrived on the stage of the world. It is worth noting that before he has drawn breath for many days, the malevolence of his enemy is unleashed against him in the slaughter of the infants: battle is joined!

But this is only a beginning; it is not an ending. We have looked only at a few brief promises concerning only his birth. There are countless others that speak of his living, dying, rising, reigning and returning. He has come to stand for his people, to oppose their enemy and defeat him utterly, to set us free from his cruel reign and to restore us to God.

This is not mere coincidence; it is far too complex for that. It is not fantasy; it is far too well-attested for that. This is promise and fulfilment.

Come to Bethlehem. What do you see? An excuse for a temporary bout of niceness? A chance for a get-together, perhaps a family gathering or a party of some kind? A bit of token spirituality for the festive season? A reason to try a little harder this year?

Or do you see a weak infant who is the infinitely mighty God? The eternal Lord a few days born? A ruler, though despised? A king born into a carpenter’s home? A poor baby who is a crowned warrior?

Behold your champion, the Saviour sent from God to deliver and defend from sin, death and hell. Any other Jesus is both false and useless, a lie and a vanity. But this Jesus is a Saviour for you, and if you will take him and trust him as God makes him known, then you will be saved, delivered from Satan’s clutches and miseries as you bow, and worship, and adore, and believe with Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, and with all those who have been redeemed by his holy life and sacrificial death, keeping company with angels in the praises of the Redeemer.

Commit your eternal soul to the care of God’s champion: his Son, born in the city of David, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 25 December 2010 at 00:05

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