Caesar Augustus thought he was solving a governance problem when he ordered a census throughout his empire. Who knew a far more important plan was unfolding?
Joseph and Mary thought they were complying with an inconvenient Roman edict by returning to their ancestral hometown. Who knew they were fulfilling a prediction written centuries before by the prophet Micah?
In pasture fields near Bethlehem, shepherds expected a quiet, uneventful night tending their sheep, unaware they were about to encounter the brilliant light of God’s glory while a horde of angels filled the air with songs of praise. Who knew that night would alter world history?
In Jerusalem’s temple courts, a 12-year-old boy amazed the crowd with his understanding and answers. Who knew that 21 years later this young man would carry out his Father’s business by laying down his life as a sacrifice for sin?
When a 30-year-old carpenter-turned-rabbi stood dripping wet in the Jordan River after being baptized by John, who knew that the old Mosaic covenant would soon give way to a new covenant of grace sealed by the blood of the Lamb?
Did Jesus’ disciples realize what lay ahead when they heard his challenge, “Take up your cross”?
Peace on Earth—and in Our Hearts
Jesus was familiar with the book of Isaiah. What went through his mind when he read about the virgin-born child called Immanuel, the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6)? What stirred in his heart when he read the solemn predictions about the Suffering Servant recorded in Isaiah 53? He knew these prophecies were about him.
When smug religious leaders challenged his teaching, Jesus knew their intentions. When Judas plotted to betray his innocent blood, Jesus knew what was going on. When skeptics sent questioners to interrogate Jesus and try to trap him in his words, he knew their hearts. When he was abandoned by his disciples, scorned by his enemies, scourged by soldiers, and tortured on the cross, it all came as no surprise to the Lord. He knew. But he also knew in advance what would happen next: the miracle of his own resurrection.
The Lord knows the details of creation, and you and I are some of the details. Amazed by God’s intimate knowledge of the human heart, the psalmist David wrote, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. . . . Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Psalm 139:1, 6). Ultimately our all-wise God is the only one smart enough and strong enough to bring peace on earth—a peace that surpasses understanding.
Do you feel sad this Christmas? He knows.
Are icy pangs of loneliness leaving you in the cold this holiday season? He knows.
Do you regret mistakes you made in the past? Do current events make you uneasy? Are you anxious about the future? God isn’t caught off-guard by any of this, nor do any of our worries fall beyond the scope of his grace. He knows, and he cares.
As Bethlehem, Calvary, and the empty tomb attest, God knows what he is doing, and his purpose will prevail. That’s why, despite all the unknowns in this mixed-up world, at Christmas and all year round, it is well with our souls.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Print and digital subscribers are permitted to make one print copy per week of lesson material for personal use. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.