Tuesday, December 21, 2004
The Christmas season isn't complete for my friend Brian if he doesn't sing in that wonderful combined choir presentation of one of the most glorious musical compositions of all time - Handel's "Messiah" - with its unforgettable "Hallelujah Chorus." For many, it's a special part of their Christmas season. When George Friedrich Handel wrote that "Hallelujah Chorus," it was hardly a hallelujah time in his life. He was broke, indigent, and almost despondent. Then an acquaintance contacted him about writing an oratorio for a benefit concert to raise money to help some people get out of debtors' prison. In those days, if you couldn't pay your debts, you got thrown into prison. Maybe you're especially glad they don't still do that today! Well, in less than a month, Handel composed that masterpiece that would end up inspiring millions for centuries to come. Its first performance was life changing for him and for many people. Because of that night of "Hallelujah Chorus" for the "Messiah," 142 prisoners went free!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Hallelujah Chorus and a Hallelujah Christmas."
Here's the great news about Christmas - the Messiah is still setting prisoners free. Not the music - the Messiah the music is about! In fact Jesus, the Son of God, said, "If the Son shall set you free, you will be free indeed!" ( John 8:36). In fact, it just might be that Jesus may do that liberating miracle for you right here in the middle of the celebration of His coming.
He said that it was one of the reasons for His coming to earth in the first place. In Isaiah 61:1, our word for today from the Word of God, these are the prophetic words spoken about His coming: "He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners." He was talking about something much more than physical imprisonment. He was talking about the prison the whole human race lives in because of our rejection of God's rule over our life.
It's a prison without walls - a life where we're trapped in a cycle of meaningless days that are like a gerbil running on his wheel, working hard but going nowhere. See, there's no way to know why we're here without the One who put us here. And we're on the other side of a wall from Him because of our sin; our repeated choosing of our way over His way.
We're imprisoned by our dark side, our selfishness, and anger, and hurting that we can't stand - but we can't stop. We can't get free from the guilt of what we should have never done. Or from the fear of death, our nervousness about eternity because we know we're not right with God. But the Liberator came that first Christmas to be born as one of us so He could die for us - for you.
The prophet Isaiah spelled out in graphic language what it took: "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him" ( Isaiah 53:5). The prison door opens when you personalize what Jesus did on the cross for you - when you tell Him, "Jesus, I understand now that You're my only hope of getting to God, my only hope of the life I was made to live, my only hope of heaven. I resign the running of my own life. I'm yours from this day on."
What a wonderful time this would be - this season when we celebrate His coming to earth - for Jesus to come into your life. If you're ready for that greatest of all moments, I hope you'll let me send you, as a gift to you, my booklet Yours For Life. It will help you make sure you belong to Him.
Talk about a hallelujah Christmas! Your first Christmas with Christ in your heart. Finally free.