Summary: This is the final Sunday of Advent... refreshing our memories of all 4 weeks, and focusing on the message of the angels for all of us this Holiday Season.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. 11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
“By the Light of Candles… We Can See!”
All four candles now stand lit. Each one… sheds its own light on the Christmas story. Three weeks ago… we had only one candle lighting our way; one candle… sharing its small message with us. Today, we have FOUR candle’s burning brightly! Separately… they are but small lights with only a part of the message to tell, but together… they are a beaming light… focusing our attention on their shared message, focusing their light… upon our savior Jesus Christ.
Look! The first candle glows… calling our attention. It speaks to us in that voice of prophecy. In its light… we see the nation of Israel… we see her prophets… calling for Israel’s salvation… and calling for the world’s salvation. Long Israel had suffered, long had it been in slavery, long had they been banished to a foreign land. Their savior is coming. He is coming soon! The same can be said of the entire world. Long have we all suffered, long have we been trapped in slavery to sin, long have we been banished to a world that is not our TRUE home. Our savior is coming. He is coming soon! And so now, in the light of this candle… we see wisemen… following a star… off to see the fulfillment of prophecy. They go… to Bethlehem… to see the king. And it is the voice of Bethlehem that we hear next today.