Finding Christ in Christmas Carols: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Click here to read the first entry in this blog series, Finding Christ in Christmas Carols, on “O Holy Night”.
As we continue to look a little more closely at how Jesus is portrayed in some of our favorite Christmas carols, I kept coming back to the richness and intentionality in every line of Charles Wesley’s “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”. Here are the lyrics:
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.
Throughout Scripture, God’s people waited and waited for a Messiah (or Christ), someone to save them, because God had promised that he would send one to them. They were expected a military hero to set them free and deliver them from foreign powers, but Jesus came instead to free God’s people from the even greater powers of Satan, sin, and death. Jesus not only releases us from the power of sin, but also from our greatest fears, allowing us to find true rest in him and his finished work for us. He came to save God’s people, Israel, and through them to provide hope to people of all nations, tribes, and languages. Jesus is the only one who can provide true and lasting joy to those who long for hope, peace, healing, wholeness, and salvation.
Jesus was born with specific goals and purposes in mind: to deliver his people, to be at the same time both a baby and the King/Creator/Sustainer of the world, and to forever dwell in the hearts and minds of his people. He taught about his kingdom, and we now are his tool for advancing his kingdom even now, with the certain hope that one day his kingdom will fully come. Upon leaving earth, Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us, empower us, and make us more like Jesus. In his perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection he accomplished everything necessary for us to spend eternity with God.