There is nothing better on a cold dreary night than to snuggle up in front of the television with a piping hot cup of hot chocolate and watch some version of The Christmas Carol. The Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens and I do enjoy his writings. I love the movie and actually have quite a collection of the various editions. I think that the older versions, especially the black and white, are the scariest for me. I love to watch the story and think of people from my past that are kind of like old Ebenezer Scrooge. Eb is such a cheap mean old guy, isn’t he? He could scare the socks off little children I do believe! He lives a measly existence and pays small wages to his poor clerk Bob Cratchit. I marvel at how poor old Bob puts up with crotchety old Eb. I suppose that he feels sorry for the old gent and so he stays on to take care of him.
I like Bob Cratchit’s little family too. In so many ways it reminds me of a loving and warm home. Not much in worldly goods really but love grows and flourishes. Poor Mrs. Cratchit has a hard time feeding all her brood but she seems a pleasant enough woman. Tiny Tim always looks so thin, pale and pathetic in every version I watch. You just know that he is inches away from death’s door.
All of the other characters that come into the story remind me of my own past, and how various people have had some influence upon me. Some were good influences, some were not easy to live with and some have faded from my memory kind of like Eb’s memories. He sure does go through a change of heart in one night, though. I wish it were that simple to get people to change their hardened hearts today. Sometimes I wish God would send modern-day Eb’s three spirits to convince the hard-hearted that they need to repent and turn around their lives and make some restitution in their own lives. I fear that some people might have to have a few more than three spirits to change their hearts though.
Watching the movie I began to wonder why God doesn’t come down and make some people’s sleep uncomfortable like Dickens did Mr. Scrooge. A sign from the Lord might wake them up! I decided to search the scriptures to see what is said about signs from the Lord. I was a little surprised to find out that in the Old Testament there are several references to asking for a sign.
“Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test,” Isaiah 7:10-12 (New International Version or NIV).
King Ahaz was in the midst of a battle which God had promised the King he would win. The King didn’t want to test the Lord which was probably wise. Here’s another.
“This will be the sign for you, Hezekiah: “This year you will eat what grows by itself, and the second year what springs from that. But in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit. Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors,” II Kings 19:29-31, (NIV).
This time it was King Hezekiah who was worried about a battle and having the sign interpreted for him. God used crops as a sign of planting His people firmly on the earth, but it would only be a small portion of the population that would survive. God put to death a large number of the enemy that night while still in their camps. What a sign that was!
“Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death. “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live,” John 4:46-48, (NIV).
Of course the royal official was not Jewish but still Jesus made the comment that belief in Him seemed to be connected to His doing signs and miracles. He became more blunt to the religious people of the day, the Pharisees.
“Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth,” Matthew 12:38-40, (NIV).
Can you imagine if Jesus told you that you were a wicked and adulterous generation? But when asking for a sign from the Lord, isn’t that showing God a lack of faith that He can do anything? Jesus must have been asked a lot to do miracles after all people do love to be entertained. Here’s another passage.
“The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. “He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side, Mark 8: 11-13, (NIV).
Those who are well-educated in religious studies were the Pharisees and they had the nerve to question Jesus’s authority. I often wonder if we would have been guilty of questioning Jesus as God’s Son also…be honest now. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God? I sure hope you do but your disbelief won’t alter the facts. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. We have already had the sign (Jesus birth, death and resurrection) to convince us, we don’t need any more signs. That is what Christmas is all about, the sign that God loves us, and Jesus changes hearts every day. Just like Mr. Scrooge had a change of heart during the Christmas Season, so to will many today. I just wish I could send Jesus into a few people’s harden hearts that I know, but that’s not how it works is it?
Maybe the fact that Mr. Scrooge was not too old to change his heart toward his friends and neighbors and the people in his journey is an analogy. It is an analogy of how Jesus changes people’s hearts, attitudes, goals, desires, and brings them to a place of mercy and grace. I love that about A Christmas Carol and I love that about Jesus. Don’t you? So grab the book or the movie, pop some popcorn and make some hot chocolate then gather the family to enjoy whatever version you have of The Christmas Carol and enjoy the season. Merry Christmas and as Tiny Tim would say, “God bless us every one!”
Until next time…Katherine