When Jesus was born, He opened the door of redemption to our fallen world. As we all know only too well, the world remains fallen as we struggle against the effects of sin and its hold on our lives. In recent years, an undercurrent of unrest, polarization, and anger have characterized our nation. Many of our fellow citizens are at odds with one another because of political and ideological differences. Hatred seems to run deep and the divides between us are clear. It is into this world that Christians are called to spread the good news of Jesus Christ's redemptive work.
When Jesus stood in the temple and read the scriptures as an adult, He chose a passage from the book of Isaiah. Luke records it this way: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free..." (Luke 4:18 NLT).
The Bible warns us that "Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God" (2 Corinthians 4:4 NLT). So, who are the blind and what do they need to see? The first advent of Christ was a mission to bring redemption to people living in a fallen world. All of us are blind to that redemption until God, through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, opens our eyes to see the salvation promised to all people. During this Advent season, let me suggest three things that we will see when our eyes are opened:
- The hope of forgiveness
- The hope of overcoming our failures
- The hope of a future
The promise of this hope is contained in verses like these: "The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly" (Psalm 146:8 NLT). "And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf" (Isaiah 35:5 NLT).
In his book Dare to Believe, Dan Baumann illustrates what it is like to know that something is yours even though you have to wait for it. You may even have it in your hand, but are not able to enjoy it “out of the box.” He tells a story from his youth, saying that he always did a lot of snooping at Christmas time, trying to find his gifts and figure out what was in the wrapped packages his Mom had hidden.
One year, he discovered a large package with his name on it, which he knew was a set of golf clubs. One shake of the box revealed the unmistakable sound of clubs. Baumann says, “When Mom wasn’t around, I would go and feel the package, shake it, and pretend that I was on the golf course. The point is, I was already enjoying the pleasures of a future event; namely, the [unwrapping]. It had my name on it. I knew what it was.” It was his, but it would not be given to him until Christmas morning. Then he would see with his eyes what before he had only seen with his heart.
There will be another Advent. Christmas means that Christ has extended to us the gift of heaven. At this point, the gift is still "wrapped." But the package has our name on it. We know what awaits us. It is ours. We would never have received the gift if it were not for Christmas day. But we wait longingly for the day when we will enjoy the gift of heaven in all its revealed wonder.
As the Bible says, “...we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God's righteousness..." (2 Peter 3:13 NLT). The day will come when we will hear the words, “...Look, God's home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:3-4 NLT).
As you celebrate Christmas, allow God to open your eyes and help you embrace the hope of redemption through Jesus Christ our Lord!