Coach John Wooden, who passed away in June this year, won more College basketball titles than anyone in the history of the game. But his greatest legacy was surely the number of future basketball stars he personally mentored during his long and illustrious career as coach of UCLA.
I have a friend who's brother graduated from UCLA.A colleague of his who played for Coach Wooden as a student called in a favor on the night. He asked the coach to surprise his friend by arriving unannounced at his graduation dinner. Not only did Coach do this, but he invited the whole family home to his condo for coffee after the meal. Obviously the whole evening was unforgettable, but what left the greatest impression on my friend was the Coach's request to show the family his most prized possession. Leading them past the many trophies, awards and accolades on his walls, he came to a little book of hand drawings done by his little grand daughter, and showing them every picture with delighted affection, remarked, "This is my most prized possession."
Our Advent series,"Isaiah's Messiah," draws from this metaphor in many ways. It's intention is to lead people past the glamor and glitter of the Christmas 'trophies' to find the prized possession of the Child born to be King.
I love this season for so many reasons.In fact I'm about to go out and get our Christmas Tree. California is a glorious place to be a this time of the year. Nothing wrong with enjoying the Christmas cheer, just as I am sure Coach Wooden enjoyed glancing at his trophies from time to time. However, he knew what he prized.
John's gospel says of Isaiah that "he saw Jesus' glory and spoke of Him." More than 700 years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would one day be born of a virgin. Who could ever have dreamed up such a thing? It certainly wasn't Isaiah's over -active imagination. It was the same Holy Spirit who would overshadow Mary, foretelling what he would do. Simply astonishing.
You see, the prophetic weight of this moment reveals its history splitting significance. This wasn't 'away in a manger,no crying he makes' baby Jesus. That's a seasonal Jesus. 'Easy to dismiss when things become inconvenient' baby Jesus. 'No room in the inn' baby Jesus. We can put him away with the Christmas lights and missletoe before we make our New Years resolutions.
The child born be King requires more of us. His birth calls us to attention.
His life and death demands that we re-arrange our affections. Isaiah's Messiah causes us to sigh in grace-filled relief and bow our knee in awe-struck allegiance.
Isaiah's Messiah can become your Messiah too.