A friend of mine said, “The Gospel is the story of God bringing his children home.”
It is an ongoing story, of which we are aware especially at Christmastime. A thousand Decembers ago, the linchpin of God’s story was pushed into the axle as a girl pushed God from her body.
The wheel of that story continues to turn as his children await his second and final coming, the climax our Author promised since the first few chapters. I love to page through the chapters leading up to Jesus’ birth and look for the linchpins that God poked into the axles of his plan, keeping the wheel turning.
God chooses to bring his children home through a family when he promises Abram a lineage too great to count. Abram believes him. God makes a covenant with Abram and takes the responsibility of upholding both ends, thus lodging the linchpin into place. The wheel bumps over the ruts of Sarai’s disbelief, long years of silence, and the couple’s manipulation of beginning that family.
But the linchpin doesn’t budge.
God brings his children home through a second barren woman, Rebekah, who gives Isaac twins. The second-born, the lesser son Jacob, is the linchpin that allows the wheel to rattle by favoritism and trickery and cowardice.
It is Jacob’s ugly, unloved wife Leah whose fruitful womb conceives a host of sons, among whom is Judah, a linchpin of violence, godlessness, and incest. The wheel of God’s story turns for five generations to Boaz, the strong linchpin that redeems the wheel from its road of corruption when he spreads the garment of his cloak over Ruth, promising to protect and care for her.
From the line of Boaz comes David, a new king, a new linchpin, a renewal of God’s covenant to establish his son’s throne forever. David builds a house for God, in conjunction with Samuel’s prophecy:
“He is the one who will build a house for my name…I will be his father and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him.”
From David’s son Solomon come thirteen generations of mostly evil kings, of whom Jeremiah and Zechariah prophesy against, declaring woe to the shepherds who scatter God’s flock.
The wheel of God’s story appears jammed because of the rust of its linchpin. But God promises a new shepherd to gather his flock together.
He puts a new linchpin in place, and the first people to hear of it are shepherds watching their flocks at night.
That vulnerable baby is the shepherd to replace Israel’s leaders. He is the sacrificed lamb given to Abraham in place of Isaac. He is firstborn God who became second-rate man.
Wrapped in garments in the stable, he is the garment that God spreads over us in promise of love and protection, the garment that was gambled away as he bled out, so you and I could come home.
He is the King to replace David when he withstood the flogging for which he did no wrong, endured his own father’s love withheld, so you and I could become the home where he dwells.
The gospel is the ongoing story of God bringing his children home. Because of the linchpin of the first Christmas, our hearts become linchpins in the turning of that wheel.