The promise of redemption, God’s redemption, was rooted in Genesis 3:15 wherein God prophesied, addressing Satan:
“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
Though only an abstract, this communicated that God would, in time, offset the consequences of sin which was birthed in the Garden. God would provide that promise of deliverance through His own divine agency—the Seed—the One who was to come. The infraction of sin would indeed yield a different way of life, one which would bring relational challenges, sickness, and death—death to the physical body, and distance to the relationship between God and man. Though few details are given in this initial prophecy, more would follow in progressive revelation identifying the Seed—the Person, and the work of this Deliverer/Redeemer, the Messiah—Jesus.
From Scripture we know that this promise of redemption was anchored even deeper in time—before the foundations of the world. The promise of redemption was secured in time everlasting, in the eternal foreknowledge of God (Ephesians 1). The Pageant of Redemption—was established in the divine mind, announced by the prophets, reflected in the advent of Christ, effected in His death, and perfected in His resurrection.
This Pageant of Redemption is birthed “in the fullness of time,” at the incarnation of Christ in a little town, in Bethlehem. This account is chronicled for us in the “Linus” texts of Luke chapter 2:8-14.
“In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’”
At this first “bookend” of incarnational grace, both the redemptive purpose and result are heralded by the angels in this in this pronouncement… in verse 14.
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
First and foremost, God is to receive the glory for the giving of the sacrificial Lamb of God who will take away the sin of the world—it is God who has reached out to man to secure a Bride for His Son. It is God who, in this divine Pageant of Redemption, will place His Son upon the altar of the Cross in order to fulfill the prophecy of Genesis 3:15, and provide the needed reconciliation.
The last line of the angelic announcement provides the fruit of this act… it is the restoration of peace between man and God.
Peace is an ever-diminishing commodity in the equation of a broken world, but through Christ, and only through Christ, it is offered. This is not the peace between broken humans; no, it is the restoration of peace between a pure, holy God, and fallen man.
This pageant nears its crescendo at the other “bookend,” where on Calvary the Christ is offered up to death upon the Cross. At Calvary, as Christ is breathing His last, and surrendering His spirit, He exclaims “Tetelestai”— “It is finished,”—the price is paid in full (John 19:30). He has been faithful to fulfill the work given to be done in accordance with the Father’s will. “He [God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). In this atonement, the price for sin is paid—in full.
This Pageant that we celebrate at Easter has its completion three days later. The work of the Lamb is done, and fulfills the Good Shepherd’s call to faithfulness—only to be validated by the Encore of His Resurrection, as the Father affirms His sacrifice as worthy.
The work of the Messiah on Earth is thus finished. Now, the baton, so to speak has been entrusted to the Church to be ambassadors with the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). The task at hand falls to the Church, in alliance with the Holy Spirit to make known this supreme act of Grace upon the world, and to prepare the Bride for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, as Christ continues to collects His own.
May you know the peace of God this Easter!