How do we sift the meaning of Christmas from the celebration of the season? Some strive for simplicity by having fewer gifts or a smaller tree. Others make it a time of charity for the needy. But reducing the hype without discerning the hope of Christmas is no improvement. Dr. John reaches back to the Genesis beginning to remind us that in times of despair, God shines with redemptive hope.
Some look to government as a panacea for all things. They act as if good government can bring a utopia on earth. That’s hype. It is an expectation that not only exceeds the government’s power, but it ignores the fallen nature of everyone in authority. But there is hope. Dr. John points to the only Ruler who is worthy to reign forever. He is promised by God and sung by angelic choirs.
The story of Bethlehem is the promise of the prophet Micah. He predicted the birthplace of the Messiah. But he did more. Micah also predicts a time of global peace and righteousness. Listen as Dr. John rehearses the words of Micah. We will find that the One who is born is Bethlehem is the instrument and Ruler of peace. For those who long for peace, there is hope.
An engagement ring is a pledge of a wedded relationship. A down payment is a promise of ownership of a house. These are forecasts in part of what will be in whole. Jesus has come, yet there is still sin and death in our world. Today, Dr. John preaches that the arrival of Jesus in Bethlehem, His gospel teaching, powerful miracles, death and resurrection are unbreakable promises of God’s Kingdom, both present and coming.
Only the naive and deluded deny the presence and power of sin and death. Our world can be a painful place. It does no good to cover our eyes or pretend that evil doesn’t exist. It is real and requires a real answer. God provides that answer through Jesus Christ. Jesus defeats sin and death by His life, atonement, and resurrection. He comes to Bethlehem filled with light, grace, and truth. We do not have to pretend; our hope is real.