At Christmastime we think of family and friends, cookies and sweets, baking and cooking, trees and wreaths, greenery and lights. And shopping. We become so busy at times that we lose focus on the truth of Christmas. Advent season causes us to recall the real hope of Christmas.
Jesus was born in a time of political and spiritual turmoil. His people, the Jewish people, were dominated and ruled by the oppressive Romans. They had been under the control of pagan foreigners for more than 400 years. Most people lived in poverty and they spent their lives working long hours at hard labor just to provide a meal for the day.
Even religious groups battled for the hearts and minds of the people, burdening them with rules and traditions that were impossible to keep. Life was hard, and even Judaism produced more burden. Life seemed hopeless politically and spiritually.
Isaiah 11:1, written nearly 600 years before Jesus, promised a coming King who would lead the people with the Spirit of God – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. This King would be the “root of Jesse”, a descendant of David the great king of the Old Covenant. But this New King would bring real hope – not empty wishful-thinking, but a certain and sure promise of a Savior.
Paul quotes this Isaiah passage in Romans 15:12 to remind us that God’s promise of hope also extends to us Gentile believers, followers of The Way. We have a divine obligation to give away this hope in Jesus Christ our Savior. Even when our lives seem hopeless, Christ reminds us that God’s promise of hope is certain. This is the Christmas Hope we celebrate.
Will you join with me every day during this Advent season, praying for those who are lonely and struggling with life – those who are seeking hope? Will you pray for someone by name that you know is desperate for the Savior? Will you seek an opportunity this Christmas season to give the greatest gift of all – the message of hope in Jesus Christ our Lord?