The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Patching Cracks

 

December 25, 2019



In Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, the reader is introduced to John the Baptist early in the story. John the Baptist was a popular preacher in ancient Israel whose messages prepared the ancient Jewish people for Jesus’ coming. In Luke’s gospel, John’s birth is an important part of the story of Christmas and includes some interesting elements. My favorite is a prophetic speech from John’s father that was probably adapted as a first century church hymn. In it, he describes the coming of God’s chosen deliverer in phrases and terminology that an early Jewish person would certainly have understood to be political in nature. He talked about the nation being delivered from their enemies, God establishing a king in Israel again, and God keeping promises He made to their ancestors. At the time, Israel was under Roman control. They had been conquered and subjugated under an oppressive regime, and there was a strong national desire to rebel. In fact, during that era, there were numerous uprisings that ended very badly for the Jews. Predictions about a savior coming to deliver the people from their enemies and Israel having a king again would have touched a nerve. Folks were waiting for God to send a military leader and many expected Jesus to be just that. However, they did not get what they were expecting. Jesus was often bold in confronting hypocrisy and corruption in the nation of Israel, but He was not coming to lead an armed revolt. In fact, when Peter tried to fight the guards who arrested Jesus, Jesus corrected him and made it clear that an armed revolt was not the plan. In reality, what God was promising was a savior who would deliver His people from their sins and death. Our own bad choices, and the death that comes about because we live in a fallen world, are the enemy of every person who ever lived. The message of Christmas isn’t that God would deliver us from those awful enemies with might or political clout. Rather, He delivered us with a humble servant who would take punishment for the sins of all men. I think this message is particularly powerful today, because we often look for a political solution to the problems of the world. In reality, the problems of our world are a result of the brokenness that comes from sin. There isn’t a political power in the world that can fix a heart that is hard and corrupt. However, in the Old Testament God promises that through His Messiah, he will take the stony hearts of men and give them hearts of flesh instead. The real gift we receive at Christmas time is a new heart and hope for eternity because God loves us more than we deserve. This is why we sing “Joy to the World” at Christmas time. The world that once lived without hope, is given hope once more through the birth of a child who would one day save us all.

 
 

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