Christmas is coming fast and depending on where in the world you are when I post this it could be only 8 or 9 days away. As Christians we get really pumped up about Christmas. We have special songs and special worship service to celebrate the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. We celebrate the birth of our hope; the birth of our Savior.
I think every year at almost every church Christians sing “Silent Night” while holding candles to conclude our Christmas Eve services. There are Nativity scenes, Christmas cantatas and times of celebration, sharing and joy. It is at Christmas we remember that we are the recipients of God’s greatest gift. Our response is that of wonder, awe and thanksgiving. Our actions should be those of forgiveness, love and goodwill.
Here is one of the most famous passages of scripture that we read at Christmas time. I have started a little earlier in the chapter than we normally do because the context is truly powerful.
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen! (Isaiah 9:2-7)
Isaiah prophesies the freedom, power and peace that Jesus the Messiah would bring almost 700 years prior to His birth. God used Isaiah to announce hope to His people; promising a time where prosperity and peace would come to His people.
As we look at what is promised in these verses we see the following:
- The people who live and walk in darkness will see a great light
- The nation of Israel will grow and prosper
- Slavery and oppression will cease
- The uniforms they needed for war and wore into battle would no longer be necessary
Why and how would all of this be possible? Isaiah proclaims the reason to be the coming of the Messiah. Jesus is the king of the kingdom of God and wherever Jesus rules the kingdom of God rules.
Hope came to earth at Christmas because Jesus came to give us that which we could never earn, achieve or deserve.
The angels of heaven announced God’s gift in the midnight sky above Bethlehem:
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:8-14)
God’s intentions towards humanity were clearly revealed in the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- He did not arrive as a warrior coming to conquer the earth.
- He did not arrive as a judge coming to condemn the earth.
- He did not arrive as a science fiction style supernatural being to overtly command worship from the earth.
- Jesus Christ was born as a baby – God united Himself with us – so that He may redeem us.
Peace on earth and goodwill towards men was the message of the angels and it remains the message of the gospel to this day. The hope of Christmas is that God’s heart is already turned towards us – all that is necessary to receive His peace and goodwill is for us to turn our hearts towards Him.
This year at Christmas you may have a houseful of family and friends or you may be very lonely. God’s heart is turned towards you already.
This year at Christmas you may be celebrating the end of a great year or looking forward to leaving this year behind as quickly as possible. God’s heart is turned towards you already.
This year at Christmas you may have new family members or you may be missing old family members that have passed on. God’s heart is turned towards you already.
This year at Christmas you may have lots of presents under the tree or you may not have been able to even afford a tree. God’s heart is turned towards you already.
Hope has a name and it is Jesus. Peace has a name and it is Jesus. Love has a name and it is Jesus. Joy has a name and it is Jesus.
The external or natural circumstances of your 2010 Christmas will be forgotten in the years to come. Your relationship with Jesus and the celebration of His gift to each of us is why we celebrate. May your heart be full of Jesus Christ this Christmas and every day. May we all come to know peace on earth and experience and share goodwill towards men.