Christmas Hope – Hold On, Pain Ends!

March 11, 2012

Topic: Christmas, Hope


Everyone comes across circumstances of pain, despair, and loss. Amid all the trials and troubles of life, the one thing that keeps us going is hope, hope that God is in control and will lead us through all our troubles. It is the anticipation of holding on so that the pain ends. The people before Jesus Christ lived in hope of His coming – a Christmas Hope! Isaiah is one such book that vastly pictures that Christmas hope.

The Book Isaiah was 700 years before the time of Jesus Christ. We can call it the “fifth gospel” as it has much good news of Christmas hope.

Isaiah’s name means “Jehovah saves” and he ministered for more than 50 years during the reigns of four different kings. During his time, Israel was of two kingdoms: the Northern Kingdom (Israel with 10 tribes) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah with 2 tribes). Isaiah was ministering in the South, Judah during a time of cultural corruption (which sounds like our world today). Isaiah had a painful impact when he saw the Northern kingdom (Israel) destroyed and taken into captivity. A part of his mission was to warn the people that the same thing would happen to them like their brethren in the north unless they repent.

His opening words begin with a complaint in

Isaiah 1:4 

Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him

Isaiah continued to devote himself to God and offered words of hope even amid the wickedness and failure of the kings and people. He dared to believe that something better was coming even though everything around him seemed so dark.

Isaiah 60:2

 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. The Word of God brings hope in a dark world, a dark life.  Even if the darkness, hopelessness, and pain surround you; you can still remember that God offers you a future with this Christmas hope.

Isaiah 64:1

 Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! He is longing for the Lord to somehow come down into his world to bring peace to all the problems, dispel darkness, and extricate evil. Isaiah is hungry to have the Holy One extraordinarily enter our whacked-out world. Brothers and sisters, aren’t you glad that the Lord has come down?

So, from the writings of Isaiah’s hope, we will see some passages of Christmas that bring us this hope for today.

1. Time to stand firm

Isaiah 7:9

If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all. Stand firm in faith. Now an evil king named Ahaz is on the throne in Judah. He had deliberately disobeyed God and as a result, his kingdom came under attack from all quarters.

Isaiah 7:2

 “Now the house of David was told, “Aram has allied itself with Ephraim”; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.”

Here Judah’s brethren, Ephraim (Israel) had allied with a foreign nation Aram, and were fighting against Judah and their king Ahaz. They were shaking like the trees of the forest facing the wind. They could tolerate anyone coming to war with them but when the conflict came from their brothers, they shook like those trees facing the wind.

Friend, if you don’t know God when trouble comes, you too will also shake to the very core of your being. Instead of turning to the Lord, Ahaz begins to think about partnering with the evil empire of Assyria. At this crucial time, God in His love took the initiative and sent Isaiah the prophet to help King Ahaz and told him to stand firm in the Lord.

Isaiah 7:9

 If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all. If there is no belief, you will find no relief.

Isaiah 7:11 

Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.

But, Ahaz refused to ask for a sign.

Isaiah 7:12, 14 

But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.” Then we come to this remarkable prophetic passage in.” 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

The sign is for all of us. The word “you” in this passage is plural, indicating that it was not just a sign to Ahaz but to everyone. The angels made it clear in Jesus’ birth share this Christmas hope:

Luke 2:10 

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”

The sign will be a son born to a virgin. This is no ordinary pregnancy and no ordinary birth. A virgin will be with a child and will give birth to a son. This would certainly stand out as a miraculous sign and because of him, we can stay strong in the time of trouble.

The Son would be God incarnate. The name Immanuel means, “The strong God with us.” This is who He is. From the point of this miraculous birth on, God would Himself be present among His people. He will save his people. You can see this verse also mentioned in Matthew pointing to this truth:

Matthew 1:23

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Remember not to worry because of this sign of Christ’s Birth. He is with us and will take care of us. God is telling us to hold on, and stand firm, your pain ends in Christ.

2. Be Glad with the Hope

In Isaiah 9, again we have the second announcement of Jesus’ coming and his birth.  He mentioned this announcement in grief and gloom for Israel.

Isaiah 9:1

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. (There will be gladness for gloom. If you are in the gloom, you will have gladness because of  Jesus Christ.) In the past, he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future, he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan.


Zebulun and Naphtali are people groups from the north of Israel, making up the land of Galilee. As they lived close to the international border connecting to the enemy, they lived only in grief for many years. Enemies could attack them first at any time. Later, their cities turned into ruins, and streets turned abandoned. Isaiah points to a future time where there will be gladness instead of gloom in Galilee. Jesus fulfilled this by coming and ministering mainly in Galilee.

When Christ comes into our lives the gloom of the world will turn into honor. Dear beloved, Christmas was, and is, birthed amid great grief. Christ comes in a world of grief to bring tidings of joy. That is the Christmas hope for all of us today. Even on Jesus’ birth while the angels were proclaiming “peace on earth,” Herod was preparing to annihilate infants; while Mary was worshipping, other mothers were weeping for their children, and it is in this background that God gives peace and gladness to us.

Matthew 2:18

 A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.

You can understand Christmas joy best, only with the junk of life all around you because gladness comes when we’re grieving. Is that where you’re at today? That’s ok if you are because that’s exactly where Immanuel will meet you.

The birth of Christ will bring brightness to a dark world and give us peace:

Isaiah 9:2

 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

Jesus spoke in

John 8:12

 I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.

Isaiah 9:4 

For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.

The enemies of Israel had burdened the people with “bars across their shoulders.” Light of life came to shatter the heavy yoke. Instead of wiping us out, Jesus said: in

Matthew 11:30

 My yoke is easy, and my burden is light. In the place of burdens, God wants to give us blessings.

Isaiah 9:6 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The phrase “to us” means “for us, for our benefit.” We can see the description of both His humanity and His deity here.

For to us, a Child is born. –(This describes his birth as a baby.)
To us, a Son is given. – (This child is not an ordinary human being; this is God’s Son given as a Gift.)

It’s amazing to me that Isaiah not only knew that Immanuel would be born to a virgin as a sure sign, but he also understood that He would be the sent Son. We can remember what Gabriel said to Mary in

Luke 1:32

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He’s a sure sign and a sent Son.

The government will be upon His shoulders. The baby bundled in the clothes holds the universe together. The one nestled on Mary’s shoulders bears everything on His shoulders. He is the Redeemer and the Ruler of all.

Isaiah 9:6

 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor (He is Profound, great.), Mighty God (He is Powerful), Everlasting Father (He is Personal), Prince of Peace (He is the author and giver of peace)

So, the announcement of the birth of Jesus is good news of joy for the mourning.

3. Hope for a Fresh Start

Turn now to

Isaiah 11:1-2

1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD.


We have a Neem tree growing in front of our house. A passer-by broke the entire plant for the leaves when we were not present. When we came back from visiting, we could see only a stump. We thought it would not survive. It did not look very good anymore and we wondered if the stump would make it. But what surprised me is that after a couple of months the season changed and a new shoot came up, and the tree started growing again. It is come back to its glory!

In Isaiah’s day, it felt hopeless because it seemed like the only thing left were stumps. The Northern kingdom had been destroyed and things were looking bleak for the South. Do you ever feel like that? Have the stumps in your life covered your hope?

But wait. A shoot will come up from the stump. Jesse is the father of King David and it’s through his line that the Savior will come to the world. Listen to the words of

Luke 2:4 

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.

Jesus is described in

Revelation 5:5 

The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.

This shoot will become a branch that will bear fruit. Isaiah is not only able to catch a vision of the Savior as a bring coming out of a shoot, but he can also see a time when peace will come to the ones who believe in Jesus.

Luke 2:14

 Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.

Isaiah also looks forward to when the branch will establish itself as a kingdom.

Isaiah 11:6

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. When Jesus comes again, He will come as the conquering King and the Prince of Peace. What we should be doing is waiting for the days of Christ when He comes in glory and power.

4. Suffering to Blessing

Jesus came at Christmas so that He would grow and minister and one day He would be sentenced to crucifixion. By his suffering death, we can be blessed, and we can be saved from our sins.

Matthew 1:21

 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

There is an amazing number of pinpoint prophecies in Isaiah 53 that describe the suffering death of Christ on the cross:

Isaiah 53:3-5

3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.


Someone told this story about Jesus. A man fell into a dark, slimy pit. He tried to climb out of the pit, but he couldn’t. His family came along, saw the man, and said, “Poor fellow, had he listened to us, he never would have gotten there,” and they went on. Then his friends came along and saw the man in the pit and said, “Poor fellow, if he’ll come up here, I’ll help him,” and he too kept on walking. Then Jesus Christ came along and said, “Poor fellow.” And then he jumped down into the pit and lifted him out.

The significance of the first Christmas does not end in the birth of Jesus Christ but in the blessings that come to us because of His death. He overturned the human suffering of sin to bless all those who believe in Him, took our pain, and bore our suffering. Jesus took our sickness and by His wounds, we are healed.

Jesus came not only to be born in this world but to be born in us. One can never start too early when getting ready for something really big. Are you ready right now to receive the Christ of Christmas? Isaiah’s promises are about Christ who gives us hope and when they’re fulfilled in us, they bring peace. But like a present, Jesus must be received.

A woman was in the mall doing her Christmas shopping and was stressed out trying to find the perfect present for everyone on her list. Knowing that her credit cards were almost maxed out, she couldn’t wait for Christmas to be over. With her arms full of gifts, she tried to get into a crowded elevator. As she squeezed in with the other weary shoppers she exclaimed, “Whoever came up with Christmas is out to be strung up and killed!” Several around her shook their heads in agreement. Then, from somewhere in the back a voice spoke up: “Don’t worry. They already did that to Him.”


Loved ones, let’s not miss the meaning behind Christmas this year. Isaiah gazed through centuries, and it took him to the birth, or the first advent of Jesus and it is a message of hope for us. Still, it is talking to us – HOPE: Hold On, Pain Ends.

For more related Sermons


Christmas – A Message of Hope

Jesus – The Sign