Have you ever had someone make a promise that they just didn’t keep? I think anyone would be hard pressed to find someone that has never been disappointed by a broken promise or has never broken a promise they have made at some point in time. Even when we are well intentioned sometimes things just happen and promises that are made get broken.
I remember when I was a kid. My dad was scheduled to come pick up my sister and I for our weekend visit. He had promised he would be at our house by 9 AM to get us. When he walked in the door at 3 PM I was completely devastated. A promise had been made, expectations were set, and a heart was broken. Did he have a good reason for not being there on time? I’m sure he did. But the problem is I don’t have any idea what that reason might have been. All I knew is that a promise, and in turn trust, had been broken and it was going to take a lot to repair that. As much as I wanted to believe that I would never be let down it was then I realized that I had set my expectations to high. I felt rocked to the core by the lack of faithfulness to a promise that had been made.
While people have a way of breaking promises and proving to be unfaithful in their efforts, isn’t it so much more comforting to know that God is always and forever faithful in his promises.
There are a lot of places in the New Testament that the promises made by God in the Old Testament are referenced. This is true when you read the very first few verses of the book of Mark. Mark is on a mission to share with the people the message of Christ. He spares no time with flowery word pictures and just shoots straight to the point. He reminds the reader that God has made promises. The opening 8 verses of the book of Mark are a reminder of the faithfulness of God to his people:
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: See I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the wilderness. Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight!
John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John wore a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “One who is more powerful than I am is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”Mark 1:1-3
Jesus didn’t just show up on the scene with all the miracles, lessons, teachings, and guiding. Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, who was only a few months older than he was spent his time living a very different lifestyle declaring that the messiah was coming. While Jesus was the one the Israelite people were waiting for to come redeem them and return them to the promise lands, John’s life of proclaiming the coming of the messiah was also the product of God’s faithfulness. John openly acknowledged his role in the story going so far as to make the claim that he was not even worthy to untie the straps of Jesus’ sandals
The running theme throughout the Bible is the coming of a savior. As soon as sin entered the world God set his plan of redemption into motion. He, time and again, proved that he is and will forever be faithful to his promise of deliverance. In the Old Testament prophets declared that a path would be paved for the coming messiah and the presence of John the Baptist is evidence of God’s faithfulness to those promises so very many years before. John’s proclamation of the coming messiah followed by Jesus’ entrance to the ministry field is further evidence of God’s faithfulness.
Christmas, as I shared last week, is a continual reminder that we have the hope of the second coming of Christ. It is also a reminder of the faithfulness of God’s plan for redemption. From the unlikely conception and birth of John to parents well on in age to the declaration by the angel to Mary and Joseph to the humble entrance into the world as a helpless baby, God’s faithfulness was made known. The celebration of the birth of Christ to a young girl and her husband to be is made that much more sweet when paired with the whole of the story and the birth of a baby boy who would spend his life paving the way for the coming Christ.