Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas' Consolation

Every year at Christmas I am freshly struck by the awesomeness of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. I enjoy preaching a series of Christmas sermons on the nature and meaning of the incarnation each and every year. And I never fail to find wonderfully fresh meaning from the biblical text outlining the powerful message of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us.

I was reading through Luke chapter 2 when I was gripped by verse 25 and a word contained therein. The passage deals with Simeon. Simeon had received a message from God that stated that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Christ (verse 26). In verse 25 the Scripture describes Simeon's life as one of "waiting for the consolation of Israel." What a remarkable implication is given here concerning the meaning and impact of the life and work of the Messiah, Jesus Christ! Simeon was waiting for the Messiah, by whom would come the consolation of Israel. The Greek word for "consolation" is akin to the word used for the Holy Spirit ("comforter") in John's Gospel. It includes the ideas of peace, serenity, comfort, blessedness, and favor. Later, in verses 29-30 Simeon prayed to God having seen and recognized Jesus as the Messiah, "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace...for my eyes have seen your salvation." Jesus Christ is our salvation, our consolation.

Jesus Christ is called by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 1:1 "our hope." The world today is talking a great deal about hope. Where lies the hope of the world? What can give the world a sense of joyful expectation of futuristic blessing? The answer lies not in the life or work of a politician, national leader, or human achievement. The hope for the world resides in Jesus Christ alone. In Christ alone our sins are forgiven by virtue of His atoning work on the cross, in Christ alone we are given eternal life, in Christ alone we are rightly related to God, in Christ alone we fulfill our human purpose for which God created us, in Christ alone we will ultimately reside in and enjoy the glory of God forever and ever. Christ alone is the hope for forgiveness, eternal life, justice, and goodness in this world. What a glorious consolation!

As we celebrate the Christ child in the manger this Christmas, let us remember who He really is and what He really means. In Him, in Christ Jesus, is all the hope of mankind. Christ is our CONSOLATION.

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