“What does ‘bait and switch’ mean?” asked my twelve-year-old budding entrepreneur grandson. I explained that in the world of retail, businesses use advertising to promote sales. Sometimes, they may run ads suggesting a high price on a particular item in the hope of getting buyers into their store. However, there may be only a very limited number of the item advertised. In some cases, if a proprietor is unethical, there may be none of the items, and it is simply a ploy to get shoppers to the store to buy others things, which is referred to as “baiting.” Then, when the customer gets into the store and are told there are none of the item left they are offered a more expensive alternative, and this is called “switching.” In this season of gift-giving, unfortunately, the practice of baiting and switching happens with even more frequency.

In the Bible, the Jewish nation was told by the prophet, Isaiah, “See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice.” Isaiah 32:1, NIV. After centuries of persecution by the surrounding nations, the Jewish people longed for their Messiah, who would save them once and for all. After He arrived, there would be no more wars or fighting to survive. When the angel of the LORD announced the birth of Jesus as the “Savior,” the teachers and leaders of the Jewish nation entirely missed the truth of the message. How could a tiny, helpless baby save anyone? Isn’t it strange God would choose this method to fulfill His promise?

Today, the Jewish people around the world still await the arrival of The Messiah because they could not accept Jesus as Immanuel, God with us. As Christians at Christmas time, I fear we get caught up in opposite ends of God’s promise and see Jesus as only a tiny baby instead of the “Savior” Who came to take away the sins of the world through His physical sacrifice on the cross. We feel we have to wait until Easter to recognize this part of the story. If we fail to see Jesus, the Christ child at the same moment as the Messiah Who overcame the grave, we will only receive half of God’s Ultimate Promise.

Friend, there has been no heavenly “bait and switch” in God’s promised provision. Jesus is the One Who came to take away the sins of the world; He is the Savior, Immanuel, God with us. When you see a nativity with the baby, Jesus, see also the rugged cross and empty grave. When you do, you will have the complete story of God’s beautiful Promise.

Thank You, God, for Jesus! I love that You came in the flesh and because You did, You can bring salvation to a dying world, my world. AMEN.