In reflecting on this Christmas season, I happened to be struck with a thought – we celebrate the coming of our Savior at the end of the year. At first, that seemed ironic. How could we be reaching the end when our redemption is just beginning? Then, I considered it a little more deeply and realized that this arrangement is absolutely fitting. Jesus came to put an end to mankind’s separation from God. He came to atone for our sins so that we could be reunited with our Creator. His coming marks not only the end of a dark time in human history, but also the beginning of a new age.
The prophet Isaiah lived about 700 years before Christ, but as one of the few people in history at that time who could communicate God’s will, He foretold the coming of Jesus.
“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; … And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isaiah 35:1-6, 10)
This is the age that the birth of Christ brings! Though life is difficult and this world is often full of pain, thanks to Jesus’s coming and sacrifice, all of us have access to this abundant joy. Of course, you shouldn’t take my word for it. Jesus makes this promise to us by fulfilling this prophecy in word and deed.
“When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:2-11)
This Christmas season, let’s focus on this greatest gift of all. God, through His infinite love for us, promises us life free from all pain and sadness and filled with immeasureable joy if we choose Him. That life may not be on this earth, but if you pay attention, you do get glimpses of it – maybe in the laugh of a child, in the excitement of a friend as they open a gift you give them, or maybe just sitting quietly with your spouse. We live in a new age, surrounded by God’s love and filled with His Holy Spirit. Jesus has mended the divide, bridged the gap between our imperfection and His perfection. This Christmas, let’s celebrate that perfect blessing! Let’s pay attention to and be thankful for those small moments when we experience His joy!