Have you ever been given a task to plan or a project to oversee only to have your best-laid plans go horribly awry? I have. Before I was a pastor, I was in bank operations. I remember a time when I spent months researching and preparing to implement a new system for the bank. After doing everything I thought possible to prepare for the change, everything that could possible go wrong, did go wrong. It took almost twelve months to fully recover and finally realize the benefits of the new system.
From the beginning of time, God had a plan to live in relationship with his creation. But that original plan was messed up, marred by humanity who rejected God. Even then, God had a plan to make things right again. The problem was, through many years, it appeared that God had no plan or his plan wasn’t working.
It would be easy to miss God’s plan. We celebrate his plan at Christmas through the birth of Jesus. But this plan seems off to us. How can a world that is so messed up, where so much pain and evil exists, be restored through Jesus?
It’s because Jesus is no ordinary individual. The Apostle Peter, preaching to a crowd, said, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” (Acts 2:36) Everything that needed to be done could be done because of those two words: Lord and Messiah. Peter calls Jesus Lord, emphasize the sovereign kingship of Jesus, and Messiah, emphasizing the salvation he brings.
Trying to grasp the Big Story of God without understanding Jesus will lead us to religion and trying to earn a restored relationship with God on our own. But you cannot earn it. You can only receive it. This moves beyond just believing in God. This is repentance and surrender. He lived, died and was resurrected not so we could have a moment of salvation, but so that we could live forever in relationship with him.
The truth is that if we miss Jesus, we miss everything. As Tim Keller wrote, “Jesus Christ came and lived the life you should have lived and then died the death you should have died…so now the Bible is not basically about you; it’s about him. It’s not basically about what you must do to be saved; it’s about what he has done in order to save you.”