The Incarnation and Hope
None of us can live without hope. When hope dies all is lost emotionally as those who suffer from deep depression know. All of us need hope in some area of life. It may be that a relationship will be reconciled, an illness cured, depression and sadness lifted or some life circumstance fixed and healed.
The incarnation - the birth of Christ - is all about hope. Hope that life can be different. Hope that sin can be forgiven. Hope that God will stay with us. Hope that there is a future for us. Hope that God's promises are for us today. When you think of the incarnation when God became man so that man could know God, think of hope.
On the eighth day after the birth of Jesus He was presented at the temple for His circumcision. There was an elderly man present. We read the account in Luke 2:25-35.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God saying:
"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.
What sustained Simeon was hope. What Simeon communicated to Mary and Joseph was that this baby was the hope of salvation for all people. Both Gentiles and Jews. In fact, he was now ready to die as he had seen the hope of the world.
The Incarnation speaks of hope for each of us. We live in the in-between time for the Savior has come with His Kingdom, yet we still live in a world that is broken and sinful. That will change with His second coming which is an amazing hope. But the coming of Jesus to enter into our lives, our messiness, our dysfunctions, our joy, and our pain gives us hope that things can be different, that healing can come, that we are not alone, and that we have an eternal future as well as a life of meaning and significance now.
This is a real hope described by Paul in Romans 8 this way. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how well he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That is hope and it all stems from the incarnation when God chose to enter our world and our lives with His identification with us. Hope comes ultimately from God who is able to meet our needs, change our hearts and invade our lives. He came to give us the hope of Himself.
Father, thank you for your identification with us through your birth, life, death, and resurrection. Help me today to focus not on my problems but on your presence and the hope that you make available to me. Amen