The people who walk in darkness will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or
—Isaiah 9:2,6-7 (NASB)
I have never forgotten this promise. Someday, somehow—
a child would change the world. He would snuff out the
darkness in our world and bring us light … the promise of
As I sat with my mother and sister at the synagogue and
listened to the rabbi, I felt these words seep into my heart. I
had no idea how much they would change my life.
What would that be like? To live in a kingdom ruled by the
Prince of Peace? Our small village of Nazareth was full of
unrest, trapped under the black cloud of Rome’s power.
There was nothing peaceful about the way we were forced
But this promise, the promise of peace and light, was
spoken long ago by the prophet Isaiah, speaking for the Lord.
If God said we would have peace, why is the world so dark?
Why can’t He come to us now?
"Mary." My mother’s whisper broke into my thoughts. "It is
time to leave."
As I stepped out of the synagogue with my mother, my
sister Leah, and the other women, I caught the sound of a
man’s voice. "He is coming! Our Messiah is coming!" The
man didn’t appear to be talking to anyone in particular, but
his voice was loud, and I could see a crowd forming around
him on the street corner. "There will be a new King in the
land of Israel. He will reign as King, act wisely, and bring
justice and righteousness in the land."
There it was again: the promise of hope.
I walked closer to the man. "In His days Judah will be
saved, and Israel will be secure." The man had long,
unkempt hair, and wore a dirty, tattered garment. But there
was a light in his eyes that made something obvious: this
man knew the true King … the One who would bring the
promise to life.
"And our new King—He will be called by this name: ‘The
Lord our righteousness,’ and—"
Suddenly his words were drowned out. A group of Roman
soldiers rounded the corner and grabbed the man’s arms.
Even as they dragged him down the street, he didn’t stop
talking to the people. I couldn’t hear his words because the
soldiers were shouting over him, but I saw his lips moving.
Then he was gone; probably on his way to prison or, more
I heard the doors of the synagogue open again, and then my
brother Benjamin bumped my elbow. He watched as the
crowd of listeners slipped away from the corner, watching
over their shoulders to make sure no more soldiers were
coming. "What happened?"
I sighed. "There was a man over there. He was telling the
prophecy about the new King who would save us."
"What? Did they arrest him?"
I nodded. Benjamin’s jaw tightened. I saw his dark eyes
"Those no-good Roman—"
"Benjamin!" My mother appeared behind us. "Keep your
voice down." Her voice was a harsh whisper. "Do you want
to end up like Asher?"
Asher. My older brother. A zealot who believed that Rome
was nothing but evil. He had been crucified by the Romans
just the year before, after getting into a fight with a soldier.
Benjamin looked at the ground. Asher had been his hero. I
watched him as he walked off. He was so young, only
fourteen—two years younger than me. Unless something
changed, Benjamin’s life could end just as Asher’s had.
This is not the way life is supposed to be.
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