It’s not just a truth for Christmastime, but it seems especially glorious during this season of the year. Regarding the coming Messiah, multiple centuries before Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, Isaiah let it be known (9:6): the government shall be upon his shoulders.
Isaiah recorded this prophecy at least a century before Israel would be hauled off to Babylonian captivity. God’s people had experienced a long list of failed monarchs ruling over them, and the resulting fallout had been nothing short of dreadful. It was about to get even worse, though such was undoubtedly unfathomable to the folks in the pews. And, though the prophet was sitting amid the rubble of all of that chaos and turmoil, he could see by faith a time when God Himself would rule the nations with perfection.
You and I tend to get all worked up over current events. When it comes to politics, when our candidate prevails, we feel a sense of victory. But that hard-fought win all too often fades into a gnawing sense of disappointment on both sides of the aisle. That same lapse into futility can be observed when it comes to nearly every area of our lives, and to nearly every sphere of the world which we inhabit. It can feel like a transcultural slide into despair. Friends, Christmas reminds us that human solutions will always fall short. That’s why we need a Savior.
And, if you’ll allow me to drill down even further into the nuts and bolts of our souls, you and I tend to get bogged down in depression whenever the more personal challenges of life appear to be getting the best of us. Simply put, most of us don’t do well with overwhelmed. But Christmas reminds us that, though we are in fact more fragile than we ever imagined, One has come to carry our burden for us … all the way to the cross. And then we remember God’s promise through Isaiah that the weight of the world will rest on Christ.
Why was this baby who would be the Savior of the world born in Bethlehem, anyway? Because the then global superpower was hungry for even more tax revenue. So Joseph had to sign up and pay up. That’s just the way it works when you’re not in charge, whether you’re in Rome or in Reidland. When you’re not Caesar, you render unto Caesar. What does this remind us? Just this: no chapter of human history, nor any chapter of our own lives, is futile when Jesus is Lord.
And Jesus is Lord! Christ lived for us and died for us. And the cross is not the end of the story, but the empty tomb! Christ lives for us!
For some if not most of us, 2019 has been a wearying year. But take heart, friends: “the government shall be upon his shoulders.” To know that is to know more than enough.
Christ the Savior is born. Merry, Merry Christmas!