Summary: It’s a wonderful life because God is all about helping us start over, and finding a second chance.
Intro: In many ways the season of Advent is like a pregnant woman. It’s all about expectation. Of her we say, “she’s expecting.” Expecting what? Mail? A promotion? We’ll, a birth of course! She’s looking forward to a birth that will make the struggles of this present life, really wonderful after all.
She walks around with a watermellon strapped to he stomach. She feels dizzy in the morning. Her legs swell up. She can’t hold her ice-water or any other strong drink very long. When she squats down to read a soup lable she may find herself unable to rise back up again. She isn’t her usual seductive self. I’ts a hard way to live. But she’s expecting!
[show picture of baby footprint on mother’s belly.]
So it’s wonderful anyway.
And this is the message of Advent. We are expecting a birth. There is good news coming! Isaiah speaks of it in chapter 61:1
“The Lord has annointed me to preach good news to the poor.” Good news. Isaiah is the only book in the OT to use the term. Good news liberates. It releases you from apprehension. The doctor got the results of the scan back and has good news. That kind of good news.
Well, Isaiah has good news. The chapter is messianic, that is, it describes the coming messiah. And there’s something in the promises and expectations of the messiah that convince us again that indeed It’s A Wonderful Life.
Here’s the key and the central message I want us to remember today. It’s a Wonderful life because a soverign God is has purposed to give us a fresh start, and a second chance, call it even a “new birth.”
1. Jesus came to remake my physical world
A. The God of the Bible is different than the gods of other world religions. In other religions, the gods don’t come into our world. People are all trying to get into thiers.
Hindus have as their goal the escape of reincarnation, getting out of the repeated life-cycle with all it’s hardships, into the indefinable state of non-being.
Isalm teaches that after years of obedience, heroic deeds, pilgrimages, prayers, and rituals -one gets rewarded in heaven.
Fatalism says “stuff happens. That’s life. You must endure it. There may be some joys, there will be pains and hurts. But it’s pretty much random. Going no where. Stinks to be you!
But God’s word says it all differently. Genesis tells us that God came down and walked beside Adam and Eve. The Gospels tell us that God came down and walked among the Jewish people of the first century in the Middle East!
That God joined human existence in tissue and cartilege. He walked on limestone, and humus. And that place, that physical place and condition, those physical people are to be reclaimed and put back.
B. Just look at all the reversals Isaiah says the Messiah is all about: (vs1-4)
bind the broken hearted v1
free the captive v1
release the prisoner v1
comfort the mourner v2
put a crown on a head instead of ashes (the symbol of sorrow)
praise will replace dispair, v3
ancient ruins will be rebuilt, v4
This is Jubilee language. The “year of the Lord’s favor” in v2 comes from Leviticus 25, the Year of Jubilee.
God instructed Israel that every 50th year they must free their slaves, cancel all debts, return land to original families who may have sold them to pay debts.
The message of Jubilee was that when you live with Godyour failures couldn’t ruin you for good. A fresh start was always coming. God is a god who flips things around to remake them.
Isaiah even points at it with a word play. Verse 3: a crown (phe-er, (show hebrew) instead of ashes (epher, (show hebrew). Ashes were the sign of mourning. A crown/turban was the sign of festivity.
C. God’s nature is all about fresh starts, for you, for me, and even for the ground we walk on!
“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Romans 8:19-22, NIV.
Just look at what Jesus did we he walked our roads! Did he teach theology of escapism? Was it only religious data he delivered? Yes he spoke of entering God’s Kingdom, finding passage into heaven and the Father’s presence. But he also brought the Kingdom!
In Luke 4 when Jesus was beginning his ministry on earth he went to the synagogue and read our text! Luke writes,