The HOPE of Christmas
Posted by Darren Kauffman, SCS Senior at 12/21/2016 9:00:00 AM
Many of us know the story: A journey to Bethlehem, a family without a place to stay, a baby born in a barn and lying in a manger, soon to be visited by shepherds and wise men. While the nativity story and birth of that baby boy is sweet, adorable, and full of love, it is also nothing short of miraculous. We must be careful never to lose sight of this. Not only was the boy born of a virgin, but he also was to become the King of all the earth, the Ruler of the heavens, and the sacrifice of atonement for our sins. Isaiah 9:6-7 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” This passage is rich with both wisdom and comfort. “For to us a child is born.” This child was not only for Mary, not only for the Jews, nor only for God; this child was for all of us—all of his chosen people.
For those who have chosen to follow him, He is our King, and our Lord. His Kingdom will endure, thrive, and conquer all others. Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promises to David, the King of Israel. God promised David an eternal kingdom, one whose vastness would be without bounds, one that would be free from suffering, and an heir that would rule that kingdom forever. Not only has God fulfilled his promises to David, but He also will fulfill His promises to us. We are a wicked people, a sinful people, an undeserving people; a people who constantly and without fail turn towards earthly things. We are separated from God at conception, but this sweet baby boy, this Prince of Peace, has paid the price for our downfalls, our failures, our sin. His sacrifice has brought us back into the arms of The Father. We must not look at the birth of Jesus without keeping in perspective His death and resurrection. Christmas is not only a time to honor and give thanks to God for the arrival of this wonderful Savior, but also to remember what He has accomplished—our salvation. His sacrifice has not only brought us back to our Father, but it has also given us hope—hope in a life with God.
This hope should spur us forward. Our time on earth is temporary, and unfortunately, this earthly life is not always as peachy and perfect as we might want it to be. But that is the beauty of our hope in Christ. Life is full of trials; they test our faith, our endurance, and our devotion. Roman’s 5:3-4 says, “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” James says something of the same sort; we are to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds because suffering matures us and ultimately brings us closer to God. This world is one of turmoil and war; terror reigns, discord festers, opposition seems to be around every corner. We are at war with sin, war with each other, war with ourselves, and at war with Satan, but our God is our rock. This baby boy, this miracle, who lay in a manger all those years ago, brings us hope.
Isaiah gives this boy four names, the first being Wonderful Counselor. Jesus is someone we can come to with our problems. He is a counselor, someone who is approachable, understanding, discerning, and someone who is always there for us. We do not have to face our struggles alone! Not only are we surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ, but Jesus Christ, Lord of all, is with us all the time with open ears, ready to listen, and a loving heart, ready to comfort. The second name given by Isaiah is Mighty God. Christ is mighty, powerful and in control—even in a manger. At times in our lives everything may seem at a loss, but Jesus is in control. Christ can take away all our worries, and although it is in His power to do so, we must respect His answer whether it be yes or no. Everything happens according to His perfect will and we have hope in His kingdom that is free from all suffering. Christ is also called the Eternal Father. He is with us forever; He never fails; He never gives up; His love never ends. He is the father to the fatherless, the shepherd to the lambs, the friend to the friendless, the savior to the sinner. Finally, Christ is the Prince of Peace; this war that is waged on earth—between ourselves, others, sin, and Satan—is only temporary. Christ brings peace to all. All our suffering, all our pain, all our hurt is only temporary. As the Christmas Hymn goes, “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” This peace is only brought about by that baby boy, wrapped in cloth and laid in a manager.
A poor couple with child was without a room to stay except for a small barn filled with animals. Imagine the smell, the dirt, and the aura of the barn. Most princes are born in a palace, but Christ came in some of the poorest conditions imaginable. Christ endured suffering. Fast-forward from His birth to His death and we can see that He experienced unimaginable suffering. The sins of the world pressed their weight on His shoulders. Each lash of the whip, every step with the cross on His back, each nail hammered into his hands and feet—that is true suffering. But Christ overcame this suffering; three days later Christ rose, having paid for our sin. He knows what each of us goes through, and He is with us in our sufferings. Just as Romans 8 tells us, we suffer with Christ in order to be glorified with Him. This Christmas Story is of the beginning, but we must keep in mind the whole story of the life of Christ. That baby became a man, a perfect man. That baby suffered. That baby took on the sins of the world, and conquered death. That baby championed the grave. That baby is our Savior. Always give praise and honor to Him, through which all true joy, true happiness, and true love are made possible. As I said, the Christmas story is a story of a beginning, and the end has been written, but we must take our part in it. Remember that baby boy is the Counselor, the Father, the Mighty God, and the Prince of Peace; He came for you. He is, and always will be, here through thick and thin—for you, with you, and beside you.