Advent Reflections 2023: Day 16

Isaiah 9:2-7

These verses from Isaiah are traditionally read in Advent, though interpreted very differently from the original Jewish understanding. This passage may have been written to celebrate the accession of a new king of Israel, possibly Hezekiah – a much better king than some others who certainly didn’t have such valued attributes as loving and caring for the people – bringing a much-needed time of peace and prosperity, using power wisely, sent by the divine.

For Christians, these words are regarded as foretelling the character of Jesus, known as the long-expected Messiah, who would transform our troubled world. (For Jews though, the Messianic age is still to come.) As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, it is good to reflect on the way he lived out these characteristics. The earthly Jesus was certainly loving and caring but, strengthened by the Holy Spirit whom he predicted would be there for all after the death he was anticipating, that love and care lives on through ‘the body of Christ’ – ourselves – as we relate to people around us near and far.

‘Powerful’, though, was interpreted differently by Jesus. Shortly before crucifixion, he told Pilate ‘My kingdom is not of this world’. Who could have imagined that after the crucifixion, over the centuries and across the world, the ongoing influence of Jesus could have spread, so that we, miles away from the Holy Land, are preparing to celebrate the
birth of this inspirational baby?

Ros Murphy

Loving God,
Like some of the ancient Jewish kings, we have sometimes misinterpreted what it means to follow Jesus’ example. Give us strength, and forgive us, so that we can start afresh. In this time of Advent, strengthen us to follow the example of the loving life of King Jesus.