One of the most remarkable characteristics of Scripture is that it can be simultaneously simple to understand and inexhaustibly deep. For many centuries, Christians have particularly enjoyed this quote attributed to Gregory the Great—“Scripture is like a river again, broad and deep, shallow enough here for the lamb to go wading, but deep enough there for the elephant to swim.”
Very few of us would be hard pressed to recount the Christmas story. We have heard it so many times that we could probably get most of the details right if woken up in the middle of the night and forced to tell it. We learned it as children and taught it to our own children, and we indeed found it to be shallow enough for young minds to wade. However, as we grow in our understanding of Scripture, we also find it to be true that the Christmas story is deep enough for an elephant to swim.
Have you ever wondered why the church observes Advent—a season of waiting for something that has already happened? We celebrate special days like birthdays and anniversaries, but we don’t normally make a practice of celebrating waiting for those days to arrive! Jesus has already been born and the prophecies have already been fulfilled, so why set aside an entire month to wait for the celebration? While there are many good reasons, one of them is that Advent helps us to understand how long God’s people had actually been waiting before the first Christmas finally arrived.
The Bible is filled with prophecies that herald the arrival of a coming king. From the very first chapters of Genesis to Gabriel’s prophecy to Mary, God’s people spent thousands of years waiting to know the end of the story. For as long as humanity has existed, God’s people have been telling their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren that one day, God would send a King who would finally bring restoration and peace to this broken world. And throughout history, for thousands of years, generation after generation waited in anticipation for a day that never arrived.
Today, we are privileged beyond measure to know how the story ends. What God had kept hidden for millennia has been made known to us—the Lord Himself was born into this world to save us! When we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we celebrate something that our brothers and sisters from thousands of years ago would have given anything to know, and as we grow in our understand of Scripture and read the prophecies and promises for ourselves, we can grow in our appreciation of how privileged we truly are. As we wait in anticipation of the Saviour this Advent season, let us take a moment to consider all those who went before us—who didn’t know how the story was going to end—and let us be thankful that those promises have been fully revealed to us today!
All the best,