The Christmas season is distinguished by the joy it brings. Christmas is about good news of great joy coming to unworthy people. It is about joy, happiness and satisfaction brought to us, won for us in and through the person of Jesus Christ. Christmas is cause for rejoicing!
For the third week of Advent, we focus our attention on the love of God as revealed to us in John 3:16. If there is a verse that summarizes the New Testament, it is John 3:16. For it is here that we learn that the love of God is limitless and active, embracing all mankind. In love, God gave the best, his Son. His Son was not given for one group of people or one nation, He was given so that all, without distinction, without exception, who believe in him might be rescued from destruction and have eternal life.
We all yearn for peace and yet peace often eludes us. Peace eludes us because we turn to the wrong things to find peace. We misunderstand what peace is. Peace isn't the absence of conflict or noise; peace isn’t found in individual stillness. Rather, true peace is found in the wholeness of relationship with the God who made us. True peace is being reconciled unto God and dwelling in his presence under His reign forever. And that is what the incarnation of God in Christ is about: establishing true peace in us as we are reconciled to God through Christ.
We all need hope. Without hope we despair. So we will instinctively seek out people or things to hope in, a relationship, our health, job security, but eventually, all of these things will fail us. None of them can stand up under the crushing weight of our hope. Our God is a God of hope. A God who keeps his Word, a God who is trustworthy and powerful, fully capable to accomplish all He has said He will do. And the incarnation of Jesus is proof of this. Through Jesus, the promises of God come to fruition. And it is by believing in Jesus and his resurrection that we can have hope, hope that can withstand any earthly trial or affliction.
The love God poured out for his creation when He sent his Son, Jesus, was for an abundance of purposes all stemming from His love for us. (1 John 1:9) Jesus didn't just come as a teacher, a prophet, or a good example of how to live, although He was all of those things. No, Jesus came to SAVE us. God’s ultimate purpose in sending Jesus to walk with his creation was for him to die on our behalf for our sins. Those who believe in Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross for them are the happy recipients of His love eternally. Peace on the earth, good will to men, From heaven's all gracious King!
Isaiah 55 is a call from God to stop pursuing lesser, ultimately unsatisfying things of this world and turn to Him to be satisfied. God is not some cosmic killjoy. God wants us to be filled with joy. And He knows that He is what our souls long for. Therefore, in Isaiah 55, God reveals his people's folly in chasing after the world and offers us forgiveness of sin, compassion and lasting joy forevermore. You are invited to come to God and drink deeply of his presence and goodness and allow your souls to be overwhelmed by joy.
In Isaiah 11, God shares a magnificent vision of peace that is coming to the sin ravaged world through the Messiah. The peace that the Messiah will bring is far beyond our wildest notions of peace. His peace is not merely the absence of conflict but rather a restored perfect communion with Him, our Maker and the reversal of the curse of sin. Furthermore, this peace is total and comprehensive. It is not restricted to one place or to one people. But it will cover the entire earth and be for all peoples.