The Hope of Christmas
With the coming of Christmas Day comes the end of another season The long lines at the mall will slowly disappear, and the bright decorations will eventually be taken down. Those who had a chance to celebrate with good friends and family will be sad to see it go, and those who only tolerated all the parties and presents will breathe a sigh of relief.
Yet the painful reminders of loneliness and personal tragedy will probably remain. The ideal world of “Christmas” will still seem so far from the dark, broken, and disappointing world in which we find ourselves (again).
Throughout this devotional we have looked at many parts of the Bible, which were written at different points in history, in an attempt to put Christmas in context. We have looked at the various themes of hope that the Bible brings to bear. At each step of the way, we have seen that God demonstrated that he had no intention of abandoning his creation or his people.
From the beginning, Adam and Eve tasted life in paradise with God, and even after their disobedience they were given the promise of a descendant who would defeat the serpent. Through the period of the exodus, God’s people were given various reassurances that the promises made to Abraham would come to pass. During the reign of King David, God makes a covenant establishing his family’s royal lineage forever. As the kingdom starts to fall apart through the foolish decrees of various kings and the idolatry of the people, God promises restoration through a child; this is a main theme throughout the writings of the prophets, particularly Isaiah. In the Gospels accounts, statements from Gabriel, Mary and John the Baptist serve as reminders of who Jesus was. And at the end, Revelation offers us a glimpse of a return to paradise. It also offers us a promise of the return of Jesus - not as an infant but as the King of kings and Lord of lords, coming in glory to set all things right.
In Luke 2:8-14, all of these themes from all the other devotionals seem to be wrapped up in one small package. Jesus came into a world full of the same kinds of evils that we face today. He was born into a world where Herod ordered the killing of infant boys and Romans ordered the crucifixions of hundreds of Jews. People were no less sinful in those days and the world was no less fallen than it is today. But when the angels announced the good news of Jesus’ birth to shepherds on a hillside, they could not contain their joy for mankind, because they knew that Jesus was “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).
Christmas hope is not sentimental emotion or vague expectation, nor is it restrained to a few weeks of celebration every December. Christmas hope is a celebration of all the incredible promises of God; how he has been faithful to keep those promises, and how he will keep them forever.