15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
— Genesis 3:15 —
When we lived in Indiana, our parsonage was located next to the church. The church sat at 1200 North Ewing, our home was next door at 1202 North Ewing. At the same time, our house sat next to a snake pit. And to be clear, I’m not talking about the church. Rather, I am referring to the swamp-ish depression that ran alongside the parking lot, what we might call 1198 North Ewing.
Indeed, right next to the church building, the place where the bride of Christ would gather every Sunday, there was a nesting-ground for snakes. It was very much like Genesis 3. And how did we know that we had a snake infestation?
Well, every year, we had snakes in our garden, on our driveway, and in our house. And during the five years we lived there, I became quite skilled at picking up the shovel and beheading the snakes that drew near.
Now, why do I bring up snakes, especially as at Christmas time? The answer is that Christmas is often filled with trees and lights, but not enough trees and snakes. It’s like we get our messaging about Christmas from the Victorian Era of Charles Dickens, instead of letting the victory of Christ over the serpent be the reason for the season.
And so, to make Christmas more meaningful, I suggest we add a few pictures of dead snakes to our holiday decorations. Let me know if you have a crafty friend on Etsy who can work that up for us.
For as strange as it sounds to think about snakes at Christmas time, the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 is why we celebrate the birth of Christ. His birth in Bethlehem is but the first step for the Son of God towards the cross on which he would hang like the bronze serpent (see John 3:14–15). And by keeping the impaled serpent in view at Christmas time we are reminded that the babe born in a manger is the Victorious Warrior who now reigns on high.
In truth, Christmas is a war memorial. Or at least, we discover the military imagery as soon as we read the birth story in light of the Big Story. In fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies (see Isa. 7:14; 9:6–7; 11:1ff.; etc.) we celebrate at Christmas the arrival (read: invasion) of God’s king entering the enemy occupied territory.
Accordingly, the goal of Christmas is not to merely coo over baby Jesus, but to bow down before him as the King of kings and Lord of lords. For it is the victorious Christ whose birth we celebrate. And we celebrate his birth because in his life and death, we finally see the head of the serpent crushed, just as God promised at the very beginning.
The Seed of the Woman
The first promise of the gospel, the protoevangelion found in Genesis 3:15, was the theme of this week’s sermon. And in that sermon, I tried to show how this promise is enlarged and illustrated in the history of Israel. And for those celebrating the birth of Christ this year, this sermon outlines how the birth of Christ begins to fulfill the promise of the seed (singular) of the woman coming to crush the seed of the serpent, and thereby saving the seed (plural) of the woman.
This is a gospel promise that runs from Genesis to Jesus and one that is outlined in the chart below and in the sermon entitled “The Seed of the Woman.” Indeed, as Christmas draws near, may we celebrate the fact that the babe born in Bethlehem is the killer of serpents and victorious warrior-king. Continue reading →