I still can hardly believe it. I, with shriveled, bent fingers, atrophied muscles, gnarled knees, and no feeling from the shoulders down, will one day have a new body, light, bright, and clothed in righteousness—powerful and dazzling. Can you imagine the hope this gives someone spinal-cord injured like me? Or someone who is cerebral palsied, brain-injured, or who has multiple sclerosis? No other religion, no other philosophy promises new bodies, hearts, and minds. Only in the Gospel of Christ do hurting people find such incredible hope. - Joni Eareckson Tada
(For December I will reflect on hints of Christmas in the Old Testament.)
My grandson enjoys school, but he really enjoys days with early release. Teachers’ meetings or training conferences sometimes end school a few hours early! What joy!
Isaiah’s nod toward Christmas took early release much deeper. He said, “...the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom to the captives, and release from darkness the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Isaiah 61:1-2a)
Whether we are poor, brokenhearted, captive, or a prisoner, we can all experience an early release from the misery, pain, bondage, and darkness that disrupt our lives. We can all experience the year of the Lord’s favor.
Early in His ministry Jesus went to His hometown synagogue and read these verses from Isaiah. He concluded, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21b) Jesus announced His intention to right the wrongs and to provide early release from the bondage we all experience.
Christ’s entry into humanity provides the gateway of early release that we strive for today and long for from Him. We celebrate Christmas in part because of what Isaiah proclaimed, the beginning of the year of the Lord’s favor.
Author & President
Refueling in Flight Ministries, Inc