Christ, the Hope of the World
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
It might seem odd to start a Christmas Eve devotion with a passage referring to “the ancients.” We talked about the prophets for the first two devotions, but since then we’ve been focusing on New Testament figures: Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, angels, and wise men, even Herod and the Jewish leaders. What do “the ancients” have to do with Christmas? Quite a lot, actually…
Ever since the fall into sin, Old Testament believers lived in hope. They hoped for the Messiah as promised to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They hoped to be a great nation as promised to Abraham before he fathered even a single son. They hoped to live in a land flowing with milk and honey as promised to Moses at the burning bush. Sadly, there were also times when all hope seemed to be lost. God’s chosen people disobeyed him again and again, forsaking their commitment to worship the Lord and serve him only. The Assyrian and Babylonian captivities and the return of only a remnant to a decimated land left God’s people with very little to be hopeful about.
But as is so often the case, a small and seemingly insignificant event sparked a new hope. The angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and promised that he would have a son who would prepare the way for the Messiah. God had not forgotten or deserted his people. Hope sprung anew—hope that this same angel also announced to a young virgin, hope that came to pass with the birth of a baby boy on an otherwise insignificant night in Bethlehem. This baby boy was the fulfillment of thousands of years of prophecy, the One in whom the ancients put their hope, the Son sent to this earth to undo the curse of sin and perfectly live under his Father’s law.
In one sense, we as New Testament believers no longer live in hope. We can see the whole picture—not just the coming of the Messiah as a baby in Bethlehem, but the entirety of his work and ministry, sufferings and death, resurrection and ascension. We can speak with confidence of our Savior coming to this earth. We can tell of the perfect life he lived in our place. We can proclaim with certainty that because he rose, we too will rise to live with him in heaven someday. And so in another sense, we do still live in hope: hope of our own resurrection and life eternal with our Lord and Savior.
This hope is not just wishful thinking, not something that may or may not come to pass. It is a sure and certain hope, a hope promised from the very beginning of time, a hope that will continue for eternity. It is a hope that gives our lives meaning and purpose. It is a hope that a lost and despairing world desperately needs. And—most importantly—it is a hope that is too marvelous to keep to ourselves.
This year, in the midst of so much hopelessness, make it your priority to share the hope that the ancients were sure of and that we can be sure of too. Share the hope of promises kept and sins forgiven. Share the hope yet to come of a perfect life forever in heaven. Share the hope of the baby born in Bethlehem, a hope that sustains us even in the midst of so much chaos and uncertainty. This Christmas share the hope of your Savior with those around you.
Heavenly Father, you know our struggles and weaknesses. You know how easy it is for us to lose hope in the face of so much hurt and so many challenges. As we once again hear the familiar Christmas story, restore our hope in the Messiah—the One who came to earth and who will one day come again in glory. Amen.
Written by Kristi Meyer
Provided by WELS Women’s Ministry