Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.
The King Comes to Comfort His People
George Frideric Handel’s Messiah has been thrilling audiences for 281 years. For some, attending a performance of Messiah is as much a part of Christmas as putting up lights, decorating a tree, or exchanging gifts. The music of Messiah stirs our emotions like few other pieces of music can.
And yet, the true greatness of Messiah is in its message drawn directly from the Bible, such as this passage from Isaiah 40, which touches our hearts and strengthens our spirits.
“Comfort, comfort my people,” God says. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” Comfort is what we need when we are grieving, broken, or in despair. Comfort in knowing that we are loved. Comfort in knowing that someone understands what we are going through and knowing there is a way out of our grief, brokenness, and despair.
The original audience for this message was people who had turned away from God to rebellion, disobedience, and sin. Now, they were paying the price. God let them be attacked and defeated by an enemy nation.
Far away from home, they were left with nothing but guilt. But into this emptiness, God spoke comfort and hope. Your sin has been paid for. You are right with God.
How? We want to know because we, too, are guilty of turning away from God. We deserve his punishment. But God promised that a King was coming to pay the price for our sins and guilt. That King, Jesus, proved his love by coming to be one of us. He knows what we are going through. What comfort! And because of him, there’s a way out. He speaks tenderly to us in his Word and says, “I love you. I forgive you. You are mine.” What comfort!
At this point in Handel’s Messiah, the slow, somber music moves higher, breaking through the gloom of despair and striking a note of hope. So, too, our hearts sing because of the comfort our King comes to bring.
King Jesus, come to me and comfort me with your promise of forgiveness and the assurance of your love. Amen.