Scripture: Matthew 4:16
The Gospel of Matthew begins to lay out who Jesus is and what he has come to do by quoting the great prophet Isaiah in chapter 9:2.
The prophet has given us a grim picture of what life was like for those living during his time. Matthew reiterates that this is what it has been like for all of humanity since the beginning. The people had been living under constant darkness in their lives. They were living in the shadow and condemnation of death. It paints a bleak picture of the hopelessness of the people of Israel.
But even from the beginning with Eve in Genesis 3:15 and Abraham in Genesis 12 and later on with the prophets, God has promised them hope that this darkness they are walking in will not be permanent. This deep shadow of death they are falling under will not be their downfall, but they could look with an eager expectation and hope that a light would dawn on them. Though they did not see the fulfillment of this in their lifetime, they trusted that God was true to his promise and they put their trust in the hope that was sure, steady, and above all unchanged through the centuries.
The prophet Isaiah gives us a sign that this light would one day dawn on the entire universe in chapter 9:6: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,” God gives us the promise that this light would come in the form of a child. Meek and humble in a manger. Upon this child would rest the hope of the entire world to have new life, eternal life! It is upon Jesus that the hope of all the saints of the Old Testament rests. It is the same hope we have today.
For some of us, Christmas time seems anything but hopeful. For some, it is a time of apprehension and dread. Having to see family you don’t like, who cause pain or turmoil in your life. Dealing with ex-spouses and figuring out how to share the kids. The financial burden during this time of year. The loneliness from the empty seat that was once filled. There is also the pain of broken relationships during this time of year when everyone around you seems happy and enjoying the relationships they are in.
The good news is that the hope we celebrate and the hope the prophets looked forward to is one that encompasses something deeper than these issues that we might have at Christmas time. We can have this deep-seated hope in Christ in the midst of the seeming darkness in our lives because Jesus is the one that has come to ultimately dispel that darkness.
As well look towards Jesus coming what does it look like to hope in Jesus this season? How can you trust in the promise that God has made and has been fulfilled in Jesus this season? There are things in your life that may seem hopeless. We worship a God that specializes in changing around the dreary circumstances in our lives. We can celebrate this season because the greatest need and our most difficult circumstance of sin have been taken care of! Jesus has freed us from sin and death. That is the hope we can have in the midst of the hardness we might experience this holiday season that Jesus has saved us from the darkness that would separate us from God. We can have hope that in the end God will restore and redeem all that is broken in our lives.
So, this Christmas season, look to the hope that is found in Jesus in the midst of the broken relationships that God is the one who can restore them. To our loved ones that are no longer there, we have the hope of the One who can raise the dead. In the financial strain, we have hope that Jesus who has taken care of our most intense spiritual need will also take care of our physical needs. We celebrate at advent that Jesus has come to bring hope to the darkest and most broken parts of our life. Let’s focus on that hope this week.