The Sovereign Lord comes

See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:10-11

If I was to head out into the wild streets of East Grinstead today, and ask a selection of people what their view of Jesus was, I suspect that I would get a lot of different answers. I should think that some people will tell me he is a mythical character, some would say he was a good teacher, some might suggest that he was nuts, and some might even tell me that he was the Son of God. I should think that quite a lot of people at this time of year would tell me that Jesus was a small baby, born in a stable, and who received presents of gold, frankincense and myrrh from the three kings who came to visit him. This, after all, is the image that we have of Christ at the moment.

If you were to ask the Jewish people of the first century what the messiah would look like, I should think that most would tell you that he would be a strong and powerful king, who would lead an army against the Romans, and liberate God’s chosen people. This was certainly a very common view of what the Messiah would look like.

In today’s verse, however, we see not one, but three different facets of the messiah. The prophet tells us that he will be a strong and powerful ruler, perhaps similar to the envisaged by the Jews. The prophet also tells us that the messiah will be generous, and reward those who honour him. Finally, he says that the messiah will be like a shepherd tending his flock, holding them close to his heart.

It is useful to reflect on these three different facet of the messiah’s – Jesus’ – character as we appraoach the celebration of his birth. The little baby that we remember was no ordinary little baby. He was a powerful ruler, with the right to rule over all of our lives. Like all rulers, he wants us to be obedient to him, and to serve him as faithfully as we can. This ruler, though, is generous, and will reward those who honour him. He will help and support us as we lead our daily lives, but will also reward us with eternal life. In a seemingly contradictory manner, the messiah – Jesus – also cares for each and one of his people. He wants to hear our concerns and to support us in our daily burdens. He will look out for us when we struggle, and sustain us when we are tired.

We remember at Christmas the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, the messiah. When we think of that little baby in the stable, let’s not forget who he was.

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