Dwell on Christmas and the first things that captivates your thoughts are the gifts under the tree. However, long before the cups of hot cocoa around a fire of crackling-ambers there was the anticipation of something bigger than what material could offer. The event we celebrate as Jesus’ birth was the righting of wrongs and Isaiah, long before the gospels, (7:14) was told of a virgin who would bear a son and that his name would be called Immanuel (Hebrew for “God with us”). David, long before Isaiah, talked about a king who reign on a holy hill (Zion) and that all who take refuge in this person would be blessed (Psalm 2). Ruth, long before David, had her world rocked when her husband died but was able to wed Boaz who became the father of Obed, who was the father of Jesse, the father of David where the lineage of Christ comes from (Ruth 4:17).
In Isaiah there are four servant songs (Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-9; 52:12-53:12) that define the chosen one who will bring justice to all nations and that he will be a light to all nations but will do so through suffering and ridicule. If that does not stir you to praise then think about this very carefully:
Imagine being displaced from your home to a foreign nation only to be oppressed, mistreated and forced to serve as indentured servants. You hear a prophet declaring to you that “from the root of Jesse” will come hope for the nation of Israel (see Isaiah 11:1) but it has not come yet. So days, weeks, months and years pass and still there is no mashiach (Hebrew word for Messiah meaning “anointed one”) and your hopes grow stronger in anticipation with each passing second. You long for something better to make everything complete as it was said (or at least told) to you from the Rabbi.
This was the state for Israel and then…just as it was prophesied…God came to this world and Mary bore a son and named him, Jesus. Imagine growing up listening to teaching after teaching about this mashiach who would redeem mankind and now He is here! Now He is here.
So how do we respond to this? Look at how the angels responded:
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:13-14).
I think that is an excellent starting point. Worship! The moment God came down to be with us is the moment where everything suddenly became right and now the plan was established for the salvation of all souls. Tom Wright, in Simply Christian, words it best.
“So what is Christianity about then? Christianity is all about the belief that the living God, in fulfillment of his promises and as the climax of the story of Israel, has accomplished all of this—the finding, the saving, the giving of new life—in Jesus. He has done it. With Jesus, God’s rescue operation has been put into effect once and for all. A great door has swung open in the cosmos which can never again be shut. It’s the door to the prison where we’ve been kept chained up. We are offered freedom: freedom to experience God’s rescue for ourselves, to go through the open door and explore the new world to which we now have access. In particular, we are all invited—summoned actually—to discover, through following Jesus, that this new world is indeed a place of justice, spirituality, relationship, and beauty, and that we are not only to enjoy it as such but to work at bringing it to birth on earth as in heaven. In listening to Jesus, we discover whose voice it is that has echoed around the hearts and minds of the human race all along.”
. N. T. Wright, Simply Christian (New York: HarperOne, 2006): 92.