He has sent me . . . to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor . . . to comfort all who mourn. . . .
“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.” These opening lines of a hymn by Charles Wesley (1744) capture the spirit of Advent, in which we anticipate and celebrate Christ’s coming as the Savior of the world (see John 3:16).
The season of Advent began a few days ago, and in many churches people have already sung this song to focus their celebration of Christ’s coming. This song speaks to the hope the prophet Isaiah had before the coming of the Messiah, the promised Savior of God’s people. The people were in exile, and the theme of being set free and blessed and comforted offered great hope.
Focusing on Jesus Christ as the Savior, this song offers us hope as well: to be set free from our sin and to find our rest in Christ alone. It helps us to remember what God’s people longed for. It also helps us to remember what we long for: that Christ will come again to end all suffering and sorrow and give us full life forever.
Whenever we are dealing with difficult situations, we can sing this song with fervent hope, trusting that Jesus will come again. We long for his return to free the world from all its suffering and to comfort all who mourn.
Long-expected Jesus, come to our hearts, we pray. Free us from our sin and suffering, that we may find comfort and rest in you. Amen.