This world is full of hurting people—people in need of hope. Their pain could be because of personal or family issues; political difficulties, economic struggles, or personal health battles. But where will they find it this holiday season? The gifts under the tree will eventually wear out; the food that is eaten will disappear or grow rotten; the lights and decorations will all be taken down; the music will get shelved for another year.
And here we are again on the cusp of another “Merry Christmas.” Many people may not be in the mood to sing “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” or claim that “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” The hurts, the sorrows, the pains that they have experienced this year make it difficult to really soak in the meaning of the blessed incarnation of our Savior.
The solution to the hurt is not to wallow in isolation, nor is it to give yourself to drugs or alcohol. None of that will provide true hope. The true hope for hurting people can only be found in the person of Jesus Christ. He is more than “the reason for the season.” He is the hope of all the earth.
It is interesting to think that Jesus himself was born into a situation where people were hurting and going through great difficulties.
God’s people were under the control of the Roman Empire. The reason why Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem was because Caesar Augustus ordered a census of all people within his empire. With Mary near her due date to deliver a child, Joseph had to take her on a multi-day journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, perhaps as much as ninety miles, walking the whole way. That is not the kind of journey a woman in her third trimester of pregnancy would care to make in that fashion.
Herod the Great was the “King” over the Jewish land, underneath Rome’s rule. He was a brutal and immoral man, even killing off many in his own family to preserve his position. Attempting to preserve his throne, he eventually ordered the murder of infants in Matthew 2 in hopes of eliminating the announced “newborn King of the Jews” just before he died himself.
God’s chosen people had not received new written revelation from God for over 400 years. They lived in a period of political, as well as spiritual darkness. The Jewish Sanhedrin, led by the High Priest, was a pompous religious group, largely void of humble piety. As a result, the Jewish people lived in great fear of the manmade rules placed over them by their religious leaders.
And in the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, and he lived underneath all of this difficulty, turmoil, and oppression.
Into this difficult world the Messiah came, as the Savior, Christ the Lord. God had not forgotten his people, nor his promises to them. Christ came to and for hurting people, to save them from their deepest misery: their own condemnation due to their sinfulness. All the political, economic, social, and religious difficulties they faced were not as lethal as the sin residing in their own hearts. Christ came to save his people from their sins.
He did not come to overthrow the political system, nor to fight for social justice, nor to change the economic situation of the Jews. Christ came to give spiritual sight to the blind; to give life to the spiritually dead; to set free those held captive in their sins. His coming is the good news of great joy for all people.
Jesus the Messiah came into a world of hurting people, lived amongst them, and died for them, rising from the dead the third day. He, the Just One, died for us the unjust ones, so that he might bring us to God. It is because of this salvific work that Christ is the hope of Christmas.
If you have had a difficult year for whatever reason, let the good news of the incarnate King of Kings and Lord of Lords drown out all the chaos around you and in your life. It is in Jesus Christ alone that you are saved and looking for the blessed hope and glorious return of Christ. May the hope found in his incarnation, as well as the hope of his glorious return fill you with joy this holiday season. O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!