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The Messiah

Today might be a day to buy last-minute, almost forgotten gifts or it might be a day to contemplate the Gift, or even to do both.

In 1741, when George Frederic Handel was facing debtors’ prison he received a commission to write an oratorio on the life of Christ. At this time of personal crisis, he found himself perhaps better able to react creatively to the marvel of God’s purposes, writing the three hour long piece in 24 days. Its final words were Soli Deo Gloria (To the Glory of God Alone). The immediate success of his Messiah not only freed him from his financial obligations but he used the funds to free 163 inmates of the prison.

In the spring of the following year, King George II rose to his feet as the first notes of the triumphant Hallelujah Chorus rang out. Royal protocol has always demanded that, whenever the monarch stands, so too does everyone in the monarch’s presence. Thus, the entire audience and orchestra stood. King George II had accepted that he too was subject to the Lord of lords and King of kings.

At SBF, we are accustomed to singing a Chris Tomlin song, Jesus Messiah:
Jesus Messiah,
Name above all names,
Blessed Redeemer,
The rescue for sinners,
The ransom from heaven,
Jesus Messiah,
Lord of all.

Christ is English for Christos, meaning Anointed One which is the meaning of Messiah. In John 1:41, Andrew “found his brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).”

Tomlin's phrase, "The rescue for sinners, the ransom from heaven" describes what God has done through Jesus but it does not refer to our response. A devotional from the Biola University advent calendar four days ago ties these together. "Behold" is a word often used to introduce Advent passages: “Behold darkness shall cover the earth”, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive”, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy”, “Behold, your God”, “Behold, I tell you a mystery”, “Behold, I am making all things new".

Be-hold combines two words - “be” and “hold.” It means not just “to see,” but “to take hold of” and “belong to.” So, for example, in John 1:29 John the Baptist says, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!". He is not just calling us to look at Jesus, but to encounter, hold, and be held by the Saviour who takes away the sin of the world by engaging our body, mind, and heart in knowing Jesus as the Lamb.

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people.

(Martin Vernon)