Summary: No one pays that much attention to the wrapping. It’s what is inside that counts . . . right? Maybe this Christmas we should stop and consider how the gift was wrapped.
Pt. 3 - In Hope
There is usually very little attention paid to the wrappings. Even if great time and effort is made to make sure each corner is tucked and folded perfectly. Even if the bow is picked to match exactly. Even if every seam is exact. Most of the time all the attention is paid to the content. However, over the next few weeks and during this Christmas season I want us to reconsider what the content was wrapped in.
But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all and ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
the mere sound of his name will signal hope, even among far-off unbelievers.
God wanted to make the glorious riches of this secret plan known among the Gentiles, which is Christ living in you, the hope of glory.
I. In Hope
The prophet and Paul made it clear Jesus was wrapped in hope.
Against a backdrop of legalism, rules, laws, religious systems that led to bondage God sends His one and only Son. The baby in a manger is wrapped in humanity, humility but also hope. We know that He is the hope of the world. However, the problem was that because of the wrappings . . . Fleshy, small town, common setting, poor family . . . They fail to recognize the hope that had landed in their lap. He came to His own but His own didn't recognize Him. Hope was missed because hope was hidden in unexpected wrappings. They expected a conquering King, a political power, a military force, a fighter rather than a lover. However, He was hidden as a carpenter's son, quiet, ordinary, too much like them. So, they missed hope because it was hidden but they also missed hope because their hope was misplaced. Misplaced in a desire for physical freedom only. Misplaced in national freedom. Misplaced in a desire for political domination. They weren't looking for spiritual freedom.
So, then I ask this important question today . . . Do they recognize the hope that is wrapped up in you? I believe we are combating the same two issues that Jesus experienced when He was here.
1. Hope Hidden.
The Father wraps hope in a baby in a manger. But according to Paul we are part of the secret plan of God which is that He wraps Christ in humanity. Hope is no longer wrapped up in a baby in a manger. Instead the hope of Christ is now wrapped up in you. The issue is if we are not careful we hide hope!
Prophecy said that Jesus' name would bring hope to the nations/Gentiles. Then Jesus gets wrapped in us. So, we can conclude that if the world is going to find hope, then they will find it only if that hope isn't hidden by those who are holding it. We must allow people to see the hope in us. We can look back at the account . . . We discussed it last week . . . Jesus wasn't born into perfect surroundings. He teaches us that hope is best seen against the backdrop of hurt. Hope comes out of disguise in difficulty. Hope is uncovered in uncomfortable times. In the midst of struggle, devastation, destruction, pain, trouble and even in death we react and respond differently because we don't mourn like those who have no hope!
Paul said it like this in Romans 5:3-5 . . . "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
How have you responded to the divorce? The debt? The disease? The betrayal? The rebellion? The mistreatment? The denial? The injustice? Our response either unwraps hope or hides hope! Do hopeless people find hope because of you? Do they even know you have hope?
2. Hope misplaced.
The people of Jesus' day missed the hope wrapped up in Jesus because their hope was misplaced. Even though everything about Jesus' birth fulfilled the Scriptures they hold so dear, even to this day, they couldn't recognize Him because they misplaced their hope.