What happened before Christmas?

We often treat the holiday season like a beginning. We start post-holiday diets and make New Year’s resolutions to be nicer to our family members. The newness of the clothes and toys under the tree capture most of our attention during the holidays.

We do the same with the story of Christmas. We talk about how wonderful it is that Jesus came to this earth, and how humbling it is that he came in the form of a baby boy–practically the symbol of a beginning.

Is this approach of humility and awe wrong? Of course not! But there’s an entire testament of the Bible to be read before Jesus took on humanity, which signals that Jesus’ incarnation was far from the beginning of the story.

John 1:14 reads:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

So the Word–Jesus–became flesh and dwelt among us. This is enough to blow my mind–the omnipotent and eternal God of the universe became fully man in addition to being fully God. I still don’t understand it.

But what is the significance of John calling Jesus “the Word of God”?

Flip over to Revelation 19, and you’ll see:

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:11-16)

Look at this picture of the Almighty. Think about His power and glory.

Now think again about Him becoming flesh.

Jesus left behind all of that power and glory and majesty in heaven to come to Earth and die for our sins on the cross. He is the communicator and revealer–the “Word”–of God.

Jesus becoming flesh isn’t the beginning of the story. It’s the climax.

It’s the answer to sin’s curse in Genesis 3.

Read the Old Testament, and you’ll see: Everything points to Jesus.

Yes, Jesus’ incarnation at Christmas is a new beginning for anyone who believes. It’s the start of the journey to the cross, where Jesus would ultimately cry out, “It is finished!” But it’s also an answer to God’s people who were awaiting a Savior. His coming is a fulfillment of every prophecy that promised redemption and peace in the Lord.

What a beautiful paradox: We have our final answer in Jesus’ new beginning.

The story of Christmas takes on a new gravity when we read it in light of the Old Testament, and when we think about how truly glorious it was for the Word to become flesh and dwell among us.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness on them has light shone. (Isaiah 9:2)