Christmas 1 December 27, 2020
Christmas Every Day Isaiah 61:10–62:3
- The Epistle clearly points to Christmas as the “target date” of all faithful expectation, but “when the fullness of time had come,” our anticipation could only build further, because now we had “adoption as sons,” meaning a future inheritance.
- Simeon in the Gospel is perhaps the best example anywhere of one for whom Christmas would mean no post-holiday letdown.
- Though Luke really gives no indication of Simeon’s age, we picture an elderly man who had waited many years for the birth of “the Lord’s Christ,” the promised Messiah. Now that the Messiah has arrived, Simeon sees every hope and expectation fulfilled. He himself is fulfilled. Rather than a letdown, he rejoices that the Lord now lets him depart in peace.
- Does the first part of our text sound familiar?
- For Advent 3, just two weeks ago. It pictures joy in preparing for a wedding (Is 61:10). While that was obviously in place in the days looking forward to Christmas, it now appears again, but with this addition: “You shall be [future!] a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God” (Is 62:3).
- The wedding ceremony is not the end of the celebration; it only begins a joyous marriage!
The delight is emphatic in the Hebrew: “Joyfully I rejoice.” The bridegroom twists his turban around his head, after the fashion of the priests. Meanwhile, for the bride, jewels were as fitting and stunning in Isaiah’s day as they are today. We wear the royal robes and jewels of salvation through faith in the Christ of Christmas.
“Rejoicing, I will rejoice.” The preposition bǝ which occurs twice in the opening clause locates the object and source of the rejoicing: “in the Lord . . . in my God.”
The conjunction ki explains the reason for the rejoicing, which lies completely in what God has done: “For he has clothed me” (v 10). “Garments of salvation” and “robe of righteousness” are practically synonymous. Salvation is the gift of righteousness for Christ’s sake, and righteousness in Christ carries the promise of salvation on Judgment Day (Rom 3:21–31; 5:9–10). In Holy Baptism we are clothed with Christ (Gal 3:27), adorned with his righteousness, and made heirs of salvation.
“robe” (worn over a tunic by men of rank)
Now he uses familiar gardening (Gen 1:11–12; 2:9; 8:22; Is 55:10; 45:8) language as his illustration to show the spread of the messianic Gospel.
The fruit of faith grows and sprouts like seeds in a garden. Isaiah speaks a word of promise.
Creation and redemption both are entirely God’s doing, both purely out of his goodness and mercy.
The term nogah “radiance, a bright light, does not as a rule signify a glaring light, but rather a soft, mild light (50:10; 60:19). Here the word is paired with a burning torch, since it is the dawning light of salvation that is being depicted” (Pieper, p. 617) ba‘ar “burn” (NIV: “blazing”) often refers to wrath (Is 30:27), but here it involves salvation, which has wrath toward the enemies of God and Zion as its obverse side.
“The whole history of salvation is the history of the taking of the kingdom by Jehovah; in other words, the history of the working out of this crown” (Delitzsch, p. 435).
Many of the prophets like Jeremiah and Isaiah got discouraged when their preaching and teaching didn’t seem to “produce the right results.” Does that ring a bell?
“I will not keep silent.” Far from letdown, the one who has seen the Messiah is bursting with joy to share!
- Held myself back - verb is like that of Joseph controlling his emotions in the face of his brothers. remain silent = do not act in my behalf
- God's merciful silence on judgement of the world are used by those against God for bad theology “What kind of God. . .?"
- Ways known - may God's favor be so evident in his people that the world would take notice.
“This is the greatest fact, that this kingdom is altogether in Christ’s hand. It is He who rules over us. Yet according to outward appearance it looks no different from filth and mud in the devil’s hand. According to faith, however, the crown is not in the hand of Caesar but in the hand of the Lord” (Luther’s Works 17:345).
“crown . . . royal diadem.” We wore the headdress of the Lord’s salvation and righteousness. Now he wears us as his crown!
- The Lord is a glorious crown for his people. Crown is not a royal crown but a wreath used on festive occasions or the prize in the Greek games.
- Troubles never take a holiday. Debt, particularly during January when the Christmas credit-card bills appear in the mailbox. Depression. For some, the celebrations are over. The relatives have gone home. It’s back to work, back to the routine. The kids are back in school and college. Letdown.
- These may be times we’re weary and worn out, nerves frayed. We snap at loved ones; our tongues are so sharp they can cut through steel. And all the peace on earth, goodwill toward fellowman is packed up again in the attic. Gossip from malicious tongues, profanity soiling our lips, backbiting and bickering even within Christian churches.
- The pains we could anesthetize with brightly colored packages and dreams that this year having the family together would solve everything are back. And they hurt as much as they did in October: old grudges, a spouse who cheated on you, a friend who sued you. Letdown.
- On Christmas Day, we sang “Joy to the world.” But has anything about the world really changed? Or is it all back to being the sinful, depressing, disappointing way it was before—letdown?
- Well, hear once more the inspired words of Isaiah: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Hear that? This isn’t just an Advent, Christmas-coming-up text. This is a Sunday-after-Christmas text too. Now that Christ has come, God has done something—clothed us with garments of salvation, covered us with the robe of Jesus’ righteousness. And because that has happened, now we will rejoice, exult. The party is just starting! No letdown. Christ’s arrival lets us celebrate! It’s Christmas today!—and every day!
Rather Than a Letdown after the Festivities,
Christ’s Arrival Lets Us
Celebrate Christmas Every Day.