Our Wake-up Call (Advent) Isaiah 64:1-9, Mark 13:24-37
This is the season of Advent, that period of watchfulness, renewed waiting beginning our celebration of hope, peace, joy, love, and the promise of our Savior to soon return. For believers, Christmas is not the goal for the season; it is getting our hearts ready for what God has amazingly gifted us, and for the hope that is soon coming.
We do celebrate hope. That sense and prophecy of what God did. We celebrate peace. It is vested in our hearts as we anticipate the return of Christ. We celebrate joy. Joy at the gift of Christ born in human flesh. Joy in an amazing person Who cares enough to come to us, a sinful people. We celebrate love. Love in His amazing gift to us personally, in His birth, life, victory over death, and His living for us to come to Him. We celebrate hope again. The hope is in His coming again, a promise made to gather us to heaven for eternity.
Advent, our celebration, reminds us of that for which we are indeed still waiting, that for which we need to be in readiness—Christ’s coming again in glory.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound. –Isaiah 61:1
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. –Mark 13:26
November 29 begins the Advent Season for 2020.
When you hear the word Advent, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Advent begins with Hope, not a story of birth, the beginning of Jesus’ life on earth.
The King is Coming
- He is coming to be born in Bethlehem.
- He is coming, riding on a lowly donkey, to Jerusalem.
- He is coming in the clouds to judge the nations.
- And when Jesus comes, He brings with Him salvation.
Transition: Advent is the time of the coming King, our time of anticipation, and preparation for our still coming King.
Time of Preparation.During this time of year, we prepare for Christmas… The world prepares for Christmas
The lights and decorations go up the trees and nativity scenes are displayed Christmas music starts ringing through the radios Christmas shows are played throughout the TV, Travel plans are made, prices are reduced, lists are made, the shopping commences . . . and you get the point.
We prepare for Christmas… we become consumed in this preparation…In all this preparation, do we miss the point of Advent? The Jews prepared like crazy for the coming Messiah! They waited in anticipation for the coming King!
Yet most who were prepared and ready to meet the coming King were non-Jews. The magi brought gifts to the king, they followed the star, they knew the king had come. The Jews missed it. They were so focused on figuring out what the prophecies meant that they missed the message for them in the here and now of their time. So often that happens to us with Advent. We see it as history, as Jesus has already come to us in the flesh and was born of a virgin. The nativity scene represents history.
Thus, our preparation during this time shifted from Advent… to Christmas. Historically, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1), His baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (John 1:29), and His first miracle at Cana (John 2:1).
During this season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for this celebration; originally, there was little connection between Advent and Christmas. It was not until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s coming to us as a babe at Christmas. Our preparation should not be focused on Christmas as solely a baby lying in a manger… or of Advent’s history… but that we are living in a time of Advent now. The Advent of our King is not just long ago, far away, and it is certainly not over and done. The Lord’s Advent in Bethlehem is a preview, a paradigm, a template of His Advent still to come spectacularly at the End of the Age when He returns.
We prepare and wait in anticipation for the coming King Jesus… not as a baby… but as the ultimate King of kings, and Lord of lords, who rides in to establish His reign forever!
- The King of kings and Lord of lords has come
- The King of kings and Lord of lords has come and is coming again.
- Advent (the story of Christmas as we may put it) is heading somewhere… it is not stagnant.
- The child born of a virgin is born and heads to the city for a purpose; to bear our sins, and to answer the cries “Hosanna, Hosanna,” which means “save us now!”
- The baby was born to die; was born to save; was born to come again, to establish eternal reign
- We sing: “JOY to the World the Lord has come.” We know what Jesus did for us, and for others, and we sing Joy, and Rejoice, and Praise God.
Be mindful that Jesus knows a fulness of joy that we only know in part (Hebrews 12:12).
We live in Advent not only because the King of kings and Lord of lords is coming again, but because Jesus comes to us now. Through His Word, through His love for us, and others who have been created by Him. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit inside you. He travels with us on our faith journey to eternity. When He comes again, we will see Him face to face. When Jesus comes again, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and with it, a new Jerusalem, the Holy City, the dwelling place of God with his people, completely without sin and with no more death and sorrow.
This is an Advent journey. It is a journey of hope, love, joy, peace, and hope still. We who believe are on the way to the new Jerusalem, and that puts great joy into our journey. The tone of Advent is anticipation – not because we are waiting for Christmas – we know when that will be. We wait in anticipation for the fulness of salvation in the Lord made complete in that final day, the last day, whenever it may be. When Jesus returns and all things are made new!
So today is a special day… Not because it is the first Sunday of the Christmas season, or the fact that it is the first Sunday in Advent. It is a fresh day vested in the Lord! Whatever our detours and dead-ends have been in the past, now by God’s grace, He makes each day fresh for us.
Some reading these devotionals may not have turned from Jesus or have not experienced the relationship He desires with us. Maybe this will be all new to you. Join with us each day to let Christ speak to your heart; to change you to what He always intended you to be.
Many reading the 33 devotionals have the opportunity to share them with folks on their mailing lists through forwarding. You are free to do so. The desire is to reach people we know with the fame of Jesus and to remind every reader of the great treasure the Father has given us in Jesus Christ.
Dr. Larry S. Lightner