Devotional Text: Genesis 3:1-7, 15
Where does the Christmas story begin?
You might say it begins in the gospel of Matthew, chapters 1 and 2. Matthew tells the Christmas story from Joseph’s perspective and features the evil King Herod and the magi from the East who come following a miraculous star. Or you might say that it begins in the gospel of Luke chapters 1 and 2, which tells the Christmas story from Mary’s perspective—which features Elizabeth and Zechariah, the parents of John the Baptist, along with shepherds abiding in the fields. This is the Christmas story that Linus famously reads in A Charlie Brown Christmas.
You might even say that the Christmas story begins in John’s gospel, which tells us that in the beginning the Word—that is, God’s Son, the second person of the Trinity—was with God and the Word was God, and that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Although the Word is eternal and had no beginning, John tells us, the “Word becoming flesh” happened when, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ was conceived in Mary’s womb and was born at Christmas.
I would argue, however, that the Christmas story begins much earlier.
It begins when Satan, in the guise of a serpent, tempts Adam and Eve to doubt the goodness and trustworthiness of God and his word, as described in Genesis 3:1-7. And unless God takes the initiative to save us, we deserve death, God’s judgment, and hell—that is, eternal separation from God.
But there is good news—even in this tragic recounting of humanity’s first sin. Look at verse 15. Using poetic language, God says to the serpent,
I will put enmity between you [by which he means Satan] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he [referring to this offspring of Eve] shall bruise [or crush] your head, and you [meaning Satan] shall bruise his heel [meaning the heel of the woman’s offspring].
Please notice: We expect scripture to say something like, “the offspring of the woman shall bruise the heads of the offspring of the serpent.” Or “the children of the woman shall bruise the heads of the children of the serpent”—since this will take place at some point in the future. Instead, it says, “This future son”—which is singular, not plural—“will crush the head, not of some descendant of the serpent, but of the serpent himself—the same one who led humanity into sin.”
This is the earliest announcement of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (In theological terms, it’s known as the protoevangelium.)
This verse looks ahead to Christmas, when Christ came into the world in order to win a decisive victory over Satan—and the forces of sin, evil, and death that he helped to unleash. While this victory will come at a cost to the Son (the serpent will “bruise his heel”), because of the resurrection, the Son will not be destroyed.
Ultimately, this is the good news that we celebrate at Christmastime.
In what areas of your life does Satan continue to exert a harmful influence? Pray right now that the Lord will give you healing and strength to resist him (James 4:7).