The Tension of the Story
Any author will tell you that a good story needs certain elements to work, to bring in and keep a reader engaged. One of the most critical elements is a sense of tension, something that is not quite right that must be resolved at some point. Even the writers of the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew mystery books knew this. Besides the main plot, there was always some sense of tension at the end of each chapter that kept you reading—just one more chapter.
This principle doesn’t only apply to fiction. The greatest story of all (the true story of creation, fall, promise, recreation, and redemption) is one of ongoing tension and release. After the fall, a promise was made to make things right once again. Even though there were smaller resolutions, the biggest resolution was yet to come.
The great chapter in the redemption story, where our eternal rescue was ultimately secured, began not on a vast battlefield. It began in a stable. In a cattle feeding trough.
God has a great way with His stories. He didn’t start with the kings and generals, the culture shapers of the day. He started with a young virgin, a carpenter, shepherds, and wise men from another country because God loves to use humble beginnings and humble vessels. The Old Testament is filled with this common theme of simple people being plucked out of obscurity and tasked with a mission beyond their ability to accomplish on their own. Then, empowered by their great General, they move the story forward, moving it towards the stable to the trough. Eventually, it would lead to the cross and the empty tomb.
From those humble beginnings through His life, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus turned the world as we knew it upside down. More accurately, He turned the world right side up again. He sealed the impassable breach that Adam’s sin created. All of the years between the fall and the Incarnation were years of tensions relieved, pointing towards this great chapter, the chapter that secured our redemption and crushed the serpent’s head.
Waiting On God’s Promises
When you consider this great story, where did the tension really lie? It resided in the question of whether God keeps His promises. Could God be trusted? It was the question that Adam answered wrongly in the garden. Each chapter leading up to the Incarnation had that same element, a test of the trustworthiness of God. Not merely in the immediate situation, but in His trustworthiness to fulfill his ultimate promise of redemption for His elect.
At the stable, in the manger, we saw that His word was good.
And for us, His word is still good now.
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