“Bless you,” is a commonly uttered greeting or a polite response to a sneeze. Yet the significance of this phrase may well be missed on many of its speakers. “Blessing” carries a deep and rich gospel theme that threads its way all through the Scriptures and is well worth meditating on this Christmas season.
The Bible begins with Adam and Eve living in a blessed paradise under God the Creator (Gen.1,2) but that glorious garden was ruined by their rebellion against God’s word and the consequence was His deadly curse upon a fallen world (Gen.3). Yet in this very chapter of cursed consequence is a glimmer of hope that God would one day end this curse through the offspring of the woman (Gen.3:15).
God begins to unfold that plan from Genesis 12 with the call of Abraham. Here God gives a foundational promise that builds and expands all through the Bible’s story of Israel. It is essentially a pledge that through Abraham’s line God would bring an end to Adam’s curse and instead bring a blessing that would be for all the nations (Gen.12:1-3). That promised blessing finds its fulfilment ultimately in Christ who comes, as the famous Christmas hymn declares: “to make his blessings flow; far as the curse is found”.
The promised curse-ending blessing does not, of course, come through Christ’s birth but rather through His death (Gal.3:13,14). It’s at the cross that Christ takes the judgement curse of death on our behalf and in exchange pours out the blessing of eternal life on all who turn from sin and trust in Him. Finally, at the consummation of all things, we see the glorious description of Heaven in the Bible’s last chapter which includes the truth that “no longer will there be any curse” (Rev.22:3).
So, at Christmas, when we greet each other with “God bless you,” we are essentially uttering a gospel prayer that God would reverse the curse on their life and bring the blessing of eternal life in Christ. Truly understood, it’s the best gift you could ask for anyone this season. May our God be pleased to bring that true Christmas blessing to all those we love and pray for (and greet) this season. And may God bless you all with the comfort of His saving Gospel this Christmas.