Messiah

1 12 2014

It begins with a single tenor voice offering these words of hope. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.” These are the opening words of one of the most well-known and frequently performed musical works in Western culture – George Frideric Handel’s Messiah. Written in twenty-four days in the summer of 1741, Handel’s Messiah begins by sweeping through the Old Testament book of Isaiah as it shines a spotlight on the coming of a Savior who will redeem the world. It then moves through the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah, climaxing in the intensely moving Hallelujah Chorus, as the Christ’s triumph over sin and death are proclaimed to the world.

While originally written in three parts and intended to be a lesson on Christ and His redemption to be performed during Easter, Messiah has found a special place in the music of the Christmas season. The libretto, or text, of the oratorio was written by Charles Jennens, a devout Christian. Using the King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer, Jennens sought to use the words to introduce an increasingly secular world to Jesus. He brought his completed libretto to Handel, who was reduced to tears as he finished the Hallelujah Chorus. Handel told his assistant, “I did think I saw heaven open, and saw the very face of God.”

That, of course, is the message of the Messiah. Not just Handel’s oratorio, but the message of God through His Messiah. He came so that we could see the very face of God, and enter into a heaven opened by His blood. He came with a purpose to offer comfort to all people. He came to reveal the love of God in a way never seen before. He came to push back the darkness, lighting the way into the Father’s presence for all who choose to name Him as Lord.

My Jesus Resolution today is to listen anew to the message of the Messiah. Our world desperately needs the message of hope and comfort offered by Jesus. I need it. I want to pay attention to the way the prophets urge me to watch with anticipation for His coming. I want to watch with wide-eyed wonder as the heavens open and God wraps Himself in human skin. I want to be broken and made new as the hallelujahs spill through heaven and earth at His triumph over my sin. I want to see the very face of God, and in Jesus, I can.


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