When I was a child, it was so hard to wait for the grand reveal of gifts on Christmas morning! Those happy times blended with our family’s celebration of the birth of the Savior. When we started singing Christmas carols in church services, I knew the gifts would soon follow.
During Hezekiah’s rule, the people had little to anticipate. The brutal Assyrians oppressed them because they had turned away from God. But a gift of hope arrived, the miraculous defeat of the dreaded enemy. Then God told them, “A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness’…Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together” (Isa. 40:3,5). Chasing King Sennacherib away was one thing; but wait, there’s more!
John the Baptist was that voice calling. Like Hezekiah, he understood the need to repent and turn to the Lord. John’s message signaled the wait was over for “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The long-awaited One had made a humble entrance in the little town of Bethlehem. He was announced by the angels, sought by shepherds, and worshiped by the Magi. He was the glory of the Lord revealed. God with us, Immanuel, had come to minister to the people!
In the carol, “O Holy Night,” you can hear the yearning and waiting, then the realization and response. “Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ‘till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn! Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born.” The destiny of that Child in the manger was Calvary’s cross, to deliver you from sin and error by His sacrificial death. Those who receive that gift by faith worship Him as God the Son.
But wait, there’s more! Jesus promised that one day people will “see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30). In the final chapter of the Bible, He repeats three times, “I am coming quickly.” Though we wonder what “quickly” means, His second Advent is as certain and physical as the first.
My childhood understanding of the true meaning of Christmas became my faith that Christ’s coming was for my sake. The story is believable as a historical event, full of personal and spiritual meaning. If God can deliver His people and send the promised Messiah once, then He can deliver you from sin and Jesus will surely come again. Oh, glorious day! The promise is fulfilled yet the wait continues. Reflect on that hope, and have a Merry Christmas!