December 16, 2013
“But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind-stone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.”
In his description of Ebenezer Scrooge, Charles Dickens captures the character of a man who has no joy. He lives in darkness and likes it that way. In this season of Christmas, some live in joyless darkness, even though they surround themselves with a facade of lights and bows.
In a prophecy of the coming Messiah, Isaiah describes a people who walk in darkness but have seen the great light of Christ. He goes on to explain what God does through the child that is born:
“You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.” (Isaiah 9:7 ESV)
God wipes away the gloom and anguish, and pours out the joy of his provision and victory. Through Christ, God unravels the bonds of man’s brokenness and establishes the joy of unassailable freedom. God makes all things new.
Part of the beauty of celebrating Christmas is that we see the child promised through Isaiah was actually born 700 years later in Bethlehem. Even more than that, the future joy described by the prophet is a present reality for those whose lives are shaped by a relationship with Christ. On the night before his death, Jesus promised that the sorrow of his people would turn to joy, a joy that no one would take away (John 16:20-22).
Christmas is a season of joy. Though it is easy to base our joy on the emotions of the celebration, God calls us to look beyond the facade and see the true purpose of why “a child is born and a son is given.” In Christmas, God offers a joy that will never go away.