Summary: We celebrate Christ from the Cradle to the Cross to the Crown Using Isaiah, John and I Thessalonians the birth and ministry of Jesus is explored as we look forward to His second coming now.
Preparation for the Celebration
Most of us are busy preparing for a Christmas celebration now. We want to gather with family and friends, feast, give gifts and remember the coming of Christ into the world 2,000 years ago.
Now it seems to me that our last Christmas celebration couldn’t have been more than 6 months ago! But when we were children Christmas seemed to take a very long time to come around again, didn’t it?
It seems that when we are really looking forward to something the time just drags.
God’s people through the ages have felt that way about the coming of Christ.
Our first passage from Isaiah 61: 1-4, and 8-11 is one of the first places in scripture that the people are given new hope of their long-expected Messiah.
This is the announcement of good tidings from God that the Old Testament prophet declares to the people.
Though everything has been distressful and the people have been downtrodden there is hope coming. He describes it as a YEAR of the Lord’s favor and also a DAY of vengeance. This reminds us that God has a constant attitude of favor and grace toward us and when judgment is necessary it is brief and swift.
The Spirit of the Lord promised someone was coming to bind up their wounds and proclaim liberty to the captives and give them beauty for ashes and the oil of gladness and a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness or depression.
Literally there would be comfort for every sad situation they were in. That’s what we all want for Christmas, isn’t it?
This was a prophecy concerning the birth of Jesus and the coming Messiah. But the people still had to wait over 400 years before their deliverer came on the scene. He was born in Bethlehem and took the same time it takes any normal boy to grow up.
And it wasn’t until he was about thirty years old that Jesus began His public ministry by calling for the scroll of Isaiah and reading this very portion of scripture, telling them that on this day that particular scripture was fulfilled before their eyes.
We know that Jesus went about healing and doing good and we know that when he left to return to glory He said we would do even greater things in his absence through the work of the Holy Spirit in us. So the Christian faith is marked by a joyful soul and a sense of faith and hope in the future no matter how dark the clouds of doubt appear. Miracles occur all around us in answer to prayers and the work of so many servants of God everywhere.
Now our passage from John 1:6-8 and 19-28 tells us that John the Baptist introduced Jesus to the Jews as their Promised One.
The four gospels are often referred to as synoptic because they tell the same stories of the life of Jesus from different points of view. But John is the only one who leaves out our famous Christmas nativity story. He is more concerned that we know the grown up Jesus is their long-awaited Messiah.
And in verse one he begins at the very beginning when Jesus was the WORD in the creation story and now the word of God has become flesh and dwelt among them. The hundreds of years of waiting are now over.
I love a song that Kay Myrick sang in our cantata this year and I am going to share the words to it now:
Hope has hands, Freedom has feet, Truth will stand, The WORD will speak,
The Holy and lowly will finally embrace, for Love has a heartbeat and Grace has a face.
Compassion has a tear, Joy has laughter and here ever after, Peace has a smile.
Redemption’s blood has veins to flow in, a temple to glow in, the Light is a child.
You see the Old testament had revealed God’s standard of righteousness in precept and principle, but now God was revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.
The people had thought maybe John was the Christ since he had been baptizing people. They sent a committee of leaders to ask who he was. They asked if he was Elijah or the prophet who was predicted to come in the Spirit of Moses.
(I think it is interesting to note here that they were expecting these two to return to earth again and they actually did return with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration!) So they were familiar with prophecies but mixed up on the signs and the timing.
That’s easy for all of us to do. The scriptures give us many clues that are cloaked in mystery now but will become easy to see AFTER they happen. But we are to believe and be prepared for what the Lord has promised.