This post is a devotional I wrote for an Advent guide my church just published. You can find the entire guide here.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone… 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, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. – Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
When Matthew quotes Isaiah in his Gospel, he is telling us Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophecy. This is why we celebrate Christmas. But to fully celebrate and rejoice in Christmas, we must imagine a world without Christmas—a world where God left us in our sin, a world without hope.
Our world is broken. Disease, murder, suicide, drug addiction, sex trafficking, child pornography, racism, prejudice, depression, divorce, domestic violence, jealousy, insecurity, feelings of insignificance, loneliness are realities of this world, and deep down we understand that this is not as the world should be.
What is some of the brokenness you see in your life? All of us in our own way try to avoid and run from these realities. We may succeed for a while, but we are never fully able to escape. We can’t escape because we are the problem. Our selfishness is why the world is broken. We are enslaved to sin which leads to death and destruction.
What are some ways you have seen how your sin has caused destruction around you? So we can’t escape the pain and destruction in the world, because we are the problem. In a world without Christmas, this would be our reality with no hope of changing it. God had no obligation to become human and endure the punishment for our sin. God could have washed his hands of humanity and abandoned us. What if he had?
Spend some time meditating on this. Ask God to show you the hopelessness of a world without Christmas. After you have felt the weight of this darkness, go back and reread the passage.
Do you feel the thrill of hope? How much greater is the birth of Jesus once we understand how hopeless we are without him? Christmas shows us that God did not abandon us but came to rescue us from our sin. At Advent we look forward to Christmas where we celebrate Jesus’ birth and the implication it has for our souls, but we also look forward to Jesus’ return where he will finish establishing his kingdom and eradicate evil, death, and destruction.
How does Christmas give you hope in a broken world?
Thank you for Christmas. Thank you for not abandoning us in our sin. Thank you for becoming human so that in You we can find hope in an otherwise hopeless world. This advent, make us thankful for the gift of Jesus and the hope of a redeemed world. Through this hope, create a longing in our hearts for your return. We pray this in Your name, Amen.