Brothers and sisters, I am telling you that without any doubt whatsoever this Christmas is going to be the best Christmas ever – the best Christmas there could possibly be. And if you ask me why you should believe me, I am going to tell you, “Because I said so.” Now, that might not really mean anything to you at all of course, because obviously I am just a human being and saying that this Christmas is going to be the best Christmas ever would just be my human opinion, which could end up being totally wrong. Hopefully not, of course, but this could end up being the worst Christmas ever.
But if the God who made you said this will be the best Christmas ever – the best Christmas there could possibly be – then we could believe it. And it’s listening to what God says this evening about our coming Christmas celebration that I pray will help us see how great that celebration will be by emphasizing especially the last verse of our Lesson – verse 5: “And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” I can’t imagine seeing anything greater on Christmas than the glory of the Lord, and God says all of us here will see it, and we can believe that, “for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” In other words, God is saying, “Because I said so.”
So, what does all this that Isaiah the Prophet is talking about have to do with Christmas? Well, do you remember who was being referred to in verse 3, when Isaiah talked about “A voice calling in the wilderness: “Prepare the way for the Lord?” Hundreds of years later the Gospels tell us that the one born to Zechariah and Elizabeth, whose birth was spoken about in our Reading for tonight, the one we today know as John the Baptist, is the one being spoken about here – the one who would tell the people to prepare their hearts for the coming of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God — the Savior of the world. When Jesus actually was born on that first Christmas, that made that Christmas and every Christmas that would come after that the best and greatest Christmas there could possibly be, because in Jesus Christ we see what is here called “The Glory of the Lord.”
That would be an amazing gift to open on Christmas Day, wouldn’t it – the Glory of the Lord? The glory of the Lord is an expression in the Bible that refers to how God made himself known to his people in a way that they could see him. What was there while they were wandering in the wilderness? A pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night – the glory of the Lord leading them where he wanted them to go. What was there that completely filled the great temple in Jerusalem when it was finished? A great and majestic cloud – the glory of the Lord assuring them that all those animal sacrifices performed there pointed to a Lamb who would someday live and die there. What was there that surrounded the shepherds as they watched the flocks by night that at first terrified them and made them sore afraid until the angels told them, “Fear not!”? The glory of the Lord shone round about them. And who is Jesus Christ, the baby born so small and yet the awesome God so grand? The glory of the Lord. Every single Christmas you and I do open the gift of the glory of the Lord. Every single Christmas we see God in human flesh. Every single Christmas we have the best Christmas there could possibly be, because every single Christmas we have the same gift we have every single day of our lives when we think about what Jesus Christ means to us. So this day, too, December 2nd, is the greatest day there could possibly be, because we are in the presence of the glory of the Lord as we gather around his Holy Word, which talks about who Jesus Christ is and what Jesus Christ came to do.
It’s the first two verses of this Lesson which talk about what Jesus Christ would come to do, and as I read these verses, please listen for the three different ways the Lord expresses what Jesus would come to do. He starts by saying,“Comfort, comfort, my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” The work of the Christ Child would be one of giving comfort, comfort – total comfort to those who knew they needed total comfort. It did that for the people who first heard these words before Jesus came, and it does that for you and me who celebrate the fact that he did come. Let’s look at those three different ways God said that then – and now.
The first way: “Her hard service has been completed,” Isaiah says. Back then the “hard service that had been completed” was all the heartache and hardship they endured through a foreign nation invading their land and destroying so many of their people and taking so many others as prisoners to a land they did not know. Interestingly, though, that invasion and the eventual recovery from that invasion and captivity would not happen for another one hundred years. But did you notice how God worded his promise? He said, “It has been completed.” You can know that all will be good, dear children of Israel who are sorry for your sins which caused that captivity, because I said so. It’s as good as done. So, go in peace, even as you go through the horrible things that are going to happen to you.
That is our comfort, comfort every day of our lives, as well. Whether it is something very difficult you have gone through in the past, whether it is something difficult you are enduring right now in your heart or in your life through all this uncertainty that is surrounding us, or whether it something to still come in the future that God has prepared you for in the past – or is preparing you for through all this right now – God says the same thing to you as he did to them, since he looks at everything with his perfect knowledge of history and of your life: “It has been completed.” All will be good, dear people of God who know your sins which are the cause of all the sadness and evil in this world, because I said so. It’s as good as done. So, go in peace, even as you go through the difficult things that are happening to you – or that will happen to you as you continue to live your life in this world day by day.
The second way: “Her sin has been paid for,” Isaiah says. This is really at the heart of everything. The reason God can give us comfort, comfort by telling us that everything will be okay in our lives is because of what his Son did to make everything okay for our eternity. We are going to live with God when we die, because of what Jesus did when he died. He paid for everything you and I have ever done wrong that caused the Son of God to have to die in the first place. But all will be good, because the Son of God did not stay dead, because he is the Son of God. His rising from the dead is the proof that our sin has been paid for. It is the reason God can say, “Because I said so,” and that means everything in the world to us, because there is nothing, then, that can ever separate us from his love.
And the third way: “She has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins,” Isaiah says. Receiving something “double” just means it goes beyond our wildest dreams of how much God has done for us, since we have these promises from the holy God, when we are sinful humans. But God constantly gives us comfort, comfort by reminding us that he is a God of grace and mercy. Though we should get his just judgment, judgment, we will instead get God’s forgiveness and even more forgiveness, which makes us all the more thankful, thankful and all the more humble, humble, because we simply cannot grasp or fathom how God could love us so, when he knows us so, but still he says to us, “I told you so,” when he tells us that on Christmas Day in the person of Jesus Christ “the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Brothers and sisters, that is why this will be the best Christmas ever –– the best Christmas there could possibly be — just like every Christmas has always been and ever shall be. The mouth of the Lord has spoken, and what he has said is, “I told you so” – even before it happens! Amen.