Monday, December 6, 2010

Comfort Ye

Last night I attempted to write a post on Jesus as comforter and got bogged down in one instance where Jesus acted as comforter, that is, in Jesus' returning to Bethany to comfort Mary and Martha when Lazarus died.  For me, this story in John 11 reveals Jesus' humanity more than any other story in the gospels.  In it we see the profoundness of Jesus' love for this family.  When I gave up on finishing this post, I began to think of other situations when Jesus acted as comforter.  One that popped into my mind was his comforting of the disciples as he told them of his imminent death in John 14.  Jesus realized how hard it was for the disciples to accept that Jesus would no longer be with them, and he knew that the days ahead would be trying for them.  He comforted them and helped them to understand that his departure was but one stage in his journey on earth.  Another was Jesus comforting his mother as he hung from the cross, assuring her that she would be cared for by the disciple Jesus loved (John 19:26).  His words of comfort to the dying thief who recognized Jesus' mission on earth more clearly than many of Jesus' disciples is another (Luke 23:39-43).

When I hear the word, "comfort," I always think of the words that begin Isaiah 40: "Comfort, comfort you my people," a portion of the passage that is used as a prophecy of the role of John the Baptizer in the gospels.  I am reminded, too, of the tenor recitative near the beginning of Messiah that quotes this text, leading to the aria, "Every valley . . ."  Comfort is a wonderful word, and one that I need to hear during the bustle of the season leading up to Christmas.  I am enjoying the comfort of Jesus' presence in my heart as I prepare for this Monday and pray that you are also.

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