Summary: We all have our wish lists for Christmas. What do you suppose is on the wish list of Jesus?
The Wish List of Jesus
December 24, 2006
It wasn’t too long after Halloween when I received the annual call from my mother. I’m getting started on my Christmas shopping. What do your kids want?”
By this time, Christmas lists all around the world have been compiled either to be sent to Santa Claus or passed on to parents. This is a time of dreaming…what will we find under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning?
Will it be a new sweater or a bright red sled? Will it be one of those slick new scooters? Will it be a new computer? I don’t know about all of you women out there, but diamonds are usually on my wife’s list. The worst thing for a kid is to get underwear. I remember when I was in junior high school; the first package I opened on three Christmas mornings in a row was underwear.
The people of God have had their own Christmas wish lists for generation upon generation. When the people of Israel were in slavery in Egypt, they cried out for relief, for release, for salvation. God heard their wish, raised up Moses, and led them to freedom.
Hannah wished for a son. Unable to bear a child, she went into the Temple and, through her tears, implored the Lord to be granted the privilege of having a son. God heard her wish. Her son Samuel was born to be a prophet to the nation.
King David wished to build a magnificent Temple for God. God did better than that. He told David not to worry about building the Lord a dwelling place, for he would be granted the privilege of building a nation dedicated to worship and service to God.
When Solomon became King, he realized that it was an almost impossible task to follow in the footsteps of his father David. He wished, not for riches or wealth, but for wisdom. God was pleased to grant his wish, and Solomon grew wise beyond anyone’s expectations. Because of his humble spirit, he was also granted wealth unimaginable and riches beyond comprehension.
When the nation was conquered and found itself once again enslaved…this time in Babylon…the people wished for deliverance. They wanted to again sing to the glory of the Lord, but cried out, “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137). God granted their wish and brought them back to their nation. Jerusalem was rebuilt. The temple was consecrated again. The wish for deliverance had become reality.
They wished for release from the consequences of their sins. God granted them their wish and spoke through the prophet Isaiah, telling them to:
“Comfort, comfort my people…Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins…in the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up and every mountain and hill be made low, the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together…”
They wished for a Messiah, and God granted them their wish. “Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel.” That wish was granted on a cold, winter night in Bethlehem. In a stable, among the dirt and noise of the animals, in the midst of a city which neither knew nor cared much what was happening; the Messiah was born. God indeed became Immanuel…God with us. Under the star of Bethlehem, the most profound wish of God’s people was granted. The Christmas story is a story about God who keeps his promises…promises of forgiveness, deliverance, love, steadfastness, and eternal life.
John the Baptist was wishing for the coming of the Messiah. John was the one who was sent by God to proclaim the coming of the Lord. He lived in the wilderness preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people came to him out of the wilderness of their lives; people who knew something was missing in their lives, but weren’t quite able to put their finger on it; people who longed for the freedom from the weight of sins that was promised by John; people who were tired and broken and who needed good news.
John baptized them with the acknowledgment that his baptism was only the beginning…following him was one who would baptize not with water, but with fire and the Holy Spirit.
Even this great man of God experienced his dark night of the soul when former certainties became questions and hope was threatened by stark realities. John found himself in prison. He had spoken the Word of the Lord to King Herod, who, rather than pay attention to the correction that Word offered; found it easier to extinguish it. It was easier to imprison and finally behead John and so be rid of his bothersome morality than it was to look deep within him to try to understand how that Word spoke to him.