A Christmas Message of Hope
The eyes of the audience were fixed on Jesus as he walked up to the podium in the Jewish Synagogue on Shabbat and read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me
to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to offer freedom for the captives; recovery of sight for the blind, and liberty for those who are [oppressed.”
At first it did not register. Jesus was in his hometown of Nazareth, recognized by most as the son of a local carpenter. He had grown up in their village. Now he had returned, as a young adult in his early 30’s, and he had attracted a following because of his miracles and teachings.
The attendees at the synagogue were keenly interested in what he had to say.
Then Jesus dropped the bomb on them.
“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
In other words, Jesus was proclaiming that the prophecy which Isaiah had shared, foretelling the Messiah to come, was fulfilled. The Messiah had come, and it was Jesus, their hometown boy.
Not surprisingly, the leaders of the synagogue were outraged. How dare he! The Messiah would come, they justified in their hearts, and would save their nation from Roman suppression, but it was not this Jesus who they knew as the son of Joseph!
In fact, their rage was so intense, they demanded he leave their city and brought him to a cliff on a hill and attempted to throw him off of it, headfirst.
But because Jesus was indeed who he said he was, he slipped through their fingers and went on his way.
How does a message of hope bring about so much fury?
Because of their unbelief.
Oh yes, they believed the words of Isaiah, or so they said. But when the truth was revealed in front of them, they chose not to believe, and their hearts were hardened.
Nevertheless, the miracles could not be discounted. The dead were raised; the blind were given sight; demons were cast out. Lives were transformed.
A reformation in the hearts of those of the nation of Israel and surrounding areas had begun with the gospel of salvation. The Deliverer is here!
Hope stirred among those who dared to believe, in spite of the scorn from their priests and leaders of the Sanhedrin.
There is healing for the brokenhearted.
There is sight for the blind.
There is liberty for those who are in bondage.
Hope had come and Jesus was paving the way, teaching the good news, and pointing out the path to receive it.
At Christmas time, we celebrate the birth of the Messiah, which brought wise men from afar, guided by a brilliant star in the east, * to witness this miraculous event. A Savior had come. Hope for mankind had entered the world.
The Jewish nation knew the Messiah was coming. Isaiah had foretold of His birth long ago:
“For unto us a child is born – our God and our King, our Prince of Peace.”
Those in the synagogue that day who embraced the words of Jesus understood. It wasn’t just about getting relief from the oppressive rule of the Romans, it was so much more. An eternal kingdom had come for the Jewish nation, and for us too! He is our peace and our hope. *
My prayer for you this Christmas season is that your heart will be open to the message of hope that Jesus offered that day in the synagogue, and that you will receive the message of peace and deliverance that can transform and revolutionize your life.
Dig deep! Read the passages referenced here for your own personal reflections: Isaiah 9, 61; Matthew 2; Luke 4.