The Weight of the World: Day Eleven, 2019 Christmas Devotional for Students
We are loved by a God who makes promises and keeps promises. Join us, along with your teenagers, for a 16-day Christmas devotional on the Rooted blog (weekdays December 2nd-23rd). Each devotional will center around Messianic prophecies – promises – from the Old Testament, and the wonder that each one came to be fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. Every day we will release a new devotional that you can either print out or forward along to the teenagers in your care. O Come Let Us Adore Him!
The Weight of the World
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
I remember seeing an image of the Greek god Atlas holding the world on his shoulders when I was in high school. I identified with Atlas. Pressure to measure up socially, academically, and even as a Christian was like a physical weight I carried on my shoulders.
I’m sure you can relate. The demands of school work and the burden to excel in sports or the arts can weigh you down. Friends, parents, coaches, teachers, and youth workers all have expectations, and it’s hard to live up. In addition to all this performance pressure, researchers tell us about your generation’s amazing concern for our world: You are troubled about social justice, environmentally conscious, skeptical of politicians, and cautious about debt. You see that things are not as they should be, and you are determined to make the world a more beautiful place.
But maybe your deep concern about these things has caused you to feel anxious or even depressed at times. Maybe you have set about trying to solve the world’s problems on your own. There is so much need all around us—does it ever feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders?
Israel’s southern kingdom, Judah, carried a similar burden in the eighth century B.C. The people faced pressure to worship idols, and they gave in. Their land was filled with injustice, such as exploiting the vulnerable (Is. 1:17) and neglecting the poor (Is. 58:6-7). Their political leaders, the kings, failed them generation after generation, leading them deeper into idolatry and injustice.
Into this cultural context, the prophet Isaiah announced Good News:
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress…
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders. (Isaiah 9:1, 6a)
That word government comes from the Hebrew word for dominion, reign, or struggle. It’s a royal term that speaks to the rule of a king. Isaiah proclaimed that a coming King would bear the struggle, the weight of the whole world on his strong shoulders so the Israelites—and you and I—wouldn’t have to carry it on ours!
This coming King’s rule would be one of peace and not of war. His government would be an everlasting one marked by justice (all things being made right) and righteousness (all people doing right).
This King has indeed come into our world to reign on David’s throne—Jesus, our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. During Advent, we remember how Jesus came as a baby to experience life in this broken world as we do. But Advent also points us forward to the second coming of Jesus, when he will finally return to make all things right!
When you feel the pressures of life and the concerns of the world weighing down on you, remember that our God has come in the person of Jesus to carry our burdens by his life, death, and resurrection in our place. There is a day coming when the world itself will be remade, and then Jesus’ reign will be forever:
“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever’ (Rev. 11:15).
Questions for Further Reflection:
- What are the pressures or concerns in your life that cause you to feel you are carrying a weight?
- How could you hand these things over to Jesus, your Burden-Bearer (Is. 9: 6 and 53:4)?
- According to Isaiah 9, how is Jesus’ kingdom different than the political kingdoms in our world today?
King Jesus, our Prince of Peace, thank you for taking the weight of the world upon your shoulders, and our sin and shame as well. Forgive us for trying to solve the world’s problems on our own. Help us to trust you for your coming kingdom, even as we partner with you to bring beauty to the world here and now. Come quickly, we pray!
Click here for a downloadable pdf to print and share with your student or child.
Click here for the entire series as it is posted.