Read Clint Decker’s December HOPE FOR TODAY column post here or on the column site.
On the eve of history’s first Christmas, the Jewish people were filled with centuries of hope, rooted in the prophecies of their religious writings. Hope that one day a King would rise up from among them to deliver their people from the occupation of the Romans. All the non-Jewish people in the world did not have such a hope. If they faced a similar oppressive government, all they had to rest on was their own efforts at forging change. In a sense, for all the world, it was truly the dark ages. Outside of an inward hope or personal heroism, how would the darkness of the nations be turned to light?
In approximately 4 B.C. a divine earthquake caused a split right down the middle of human history – the birth of Jesus Christ. It was like the rising of the sun that meant a new day, a new era for mankind.
The Jewish prophet Isaiah, 700 years earlier, foretold about the coming of a Messiah who would become the hope of all nations. Isaiah wrote, “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” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
As Jesus grew up and settled into His heaven-sent role, the public responded and a movement was built around Him that evolved into a revolution of sorts. However, His followers became disillusioned at His messaging. He was not becoming the national Savior they envisioned.
He told the crowds His purpose was to “seek and save the lost”. He said if they wanted to follow Him they must “deny themselves”, meaning give up pursuing their agenda and take up God’s. All this was much different then what they expected.
Jesus’ focus was the hearts and souls of mankind. He purposed to deliver them from the bondage of sin and lead them to spiritual freedom. He came to govern the lives of precious souls, not a nation.
Still today, the world is looking to political leaders and government for societal change. And if that does not satisfy they escape into entertainment, addiction or self-determination. The lesson of Christmas teaches us that real and lasting hope is found in one place, Jesus. He brings us spiritual freedom, where we no longer have to be a slave to our sin. This kind of freedom the world longs for and it can only be found in the Christ child.