1Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
As we approach Christmas and the time of rejoicing at God’s presence with us in Jesus, it is important that we think about the plan of God revealed in Jesus. Our readings up to now have focused on the promise of the Messiah coming to save His people from their enemies. So, the anticipation of what God will do through the birth of Mary’s son has been growing. We may naturally think that the world will rejoice in this birth and that all that has been amiss in the world will be put right by this little baby boy.
But we see something very different revealed to us in the pages of Scripture and in the life and death of Jesus the Christ. He is set before us, even in the days prior to His birth, as someone who must suffer, be despised and die. This rubs us the wrong way at Christmas time. We want joy and laughter and feasting. And we must remember that Jesus does lead us to joy and laughter and feasting but the way there is through sorrow and tears and fasting. There is resurrection life in Jesus Christ but only after sacrificial death. We must look at the glorious birth of Jesus with the wretched cross in mind. And then, beyond that, to his even more glorious resurrection, in which all things will be put right.
He did, indeed, come to save the world but not on the world’s terms. He changed everything and since He did so, we too, must see life, this good and joyous life, in terms of the cross. In the Advent season, we see a dying world in need of a Savior and Jesus is that promised Messiah. Then Jesus is born to suffer and die Himself, revealing also the need for all men to die to sin and to live to righteousness.
When Isaiah asks, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” it is clear that he is thinking that few, if any, believed the report. But by God’s grace many did believe and from the despised man of sorrows, the victorious arm of the Lord is revealed.
At Christmas, we celebrate all God’s work in Jesus Christ, from His glorious Advent to His victory on the cross, His Resurrection from the dead, His Ascension to the place of power and rule, and His coming to establish His Church in power at Pentecost.
—Pastor Virgil Hurt, Providence Church, Lynchburg, Virginia
Our Father in Heaven, we give You praise for sending Jesus to us to redeem the world and save His people from their sins. We could not have foreseen the way that You would do this. Yourthoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways Your ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are Your ways higher than our ways, and your thoughts than our thoughts. We thank You that Jesus suffered and died on our behalf and that at Christmas time we are reminded that we are to be like Jesus, giving ourselves away to others. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will toward men. AMEN.
Talk about a time when your good intentions were misunderstood and rejected by the very ones you were trying to help. What was your response to this? What does this have to do with entering into the sufferings of Jesus? How do our sufferings turn into victory?