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The Reason for Hope!

December 19, 2013 No Comment

by Paul Zabel

zabel2011CMYK-webWhy do you celebrate Christmas? Are you sure? The waters of our seasonal celebrations seem to get murkier every year. With “Happy Holidays” being spoken and advocated by some instead of “Merry Christmas,” and with the ever-increasing commercialism of Christmas by our friendly retailers, the real reason for the season can get lost in all the preparations and celebrations. Parents, in many instances, have to struggle to help their children to see past the gifts to the real Giver of Christmas. Individuals often get to the end of the celebration and feel a deep sense of emptiness. But Christmas should bring hope, and there is a real reason for this hope!

It is good to remember that we have a strong basis for believing in Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour from sin—a real reason for celebrating Christmas. In this world of relativism, where everything is relegated to what one “wants” to believe, we must have something more solid. We also must have a reasonable and sincere faith. The apostles did not die for something they just sincerely felt. They died for what they knew to be true!

We are told to always be ready “to make a defense for the hope that is in us” (1 Peter 3:15). As we sit around the dinner table during this time of the year; as we exchange gifts with one another or worship together with all the incredible beauty and pageantry of Christmas, we can ensure a true celebration by remembering why we can be confident that Jesus is the reason for the season. We celebrate Christmas and Christ because we know He is the Messiah sent from God!

We celebrate Christmas and Christ because we know He is the Messiah sent from God!

The Apostle Peter knew the reason: “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11). Here, St. Peter does not exalt common sense or experience as the basis of His belief. He rather appeals to the prophets and the obvious fulfillment of their prophecies as his foundation. These words convey St. Peter’s answer to how he knew Jesus was the Messiah. These verses also give to us our reason—our reason for celebrating Christmas.

First of all authentic prophecies of divine origin were recorded centuries in advance through recognized prophets. The Old Testament prophets were those who spoke directly for God. What’s more, God spoke through them to tell of events that were yet to occur! He told them when to go to war and who would win. He spoke to them about men He would heal or allow to die. He also spoke to them, frequently, about the coming Messiah. The reason we know these prophets were authentic was their accuracy.

Secondly, these prophets predicted in precise detail the birth, sufferings, and glories of the Messiah. These weren’t just vague references to a general event. These prophecies were specific and time-sensitive. Some say that the fulfillment of over three hundred Old Testament prophecies was “coincidental.” I don’t think “coincidence” cuts it, do you? Only God could have orchestrated events of such magnitude.

Thirdly, these prophecies were supernaturally fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter concludes that these prophecies were heard, fulfilled, and accepted as being fulfilled supernaturally: “These things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven” (1 Peter 1:12). In other words, this is the witness of the Holy Spirit and heaven itself—an unarguable fact. It’s what we preach, the Apostle Peter says, and it is what you and I can believe this Christmas and throughout all time.

So, why does all this bring hope? It brings hope to Christmas because it says that God orchestrated all these events, literally moving heaven and earth, that we might have a Savior who would die on the cross for our sins and bring us back into a right relationship with God. And that, my friends, is hope.  I am sure of it!


Rev. Paul Zabel is President of the East District of Lutheran Church–Canada.

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