|Posted by thethousandmarch on December 24, 2010 at 11:10 PM|
(This is the sermon I gave tonight at our Christmas eve service.)
This past month during our Sunday night service we have been celebrating Advent, which is something I have never done before. It has given me a whole new perspective on the Christmas season and I'd like to share that with you.
The word Advent means coming. And, the Advent season, which is the month leading up to Christmas, is a time to remember and celebrate the first coming of Jesus as well as look forward to and prepare for his second coming – his return. So, let's take a look at the two advents of our King and his Kingdom.
Matt 1:18-23 tells us – “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means 'God with us'.”
Jesus is God in the flesh – God with us.
Hebrews 2:14-18 says that “since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
He is named Jesus, which means Jehovah is salvation – he came to save us from our sins.
While we were in rebellion, enemies of God, he loved us by dying as a sacrifice for our sins (Rom 3:25)
Phil 2:6-11 tells us that Jesus “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
This is the one whose birth we remember and celebrate each Christmas. God the Son who took upon himself our nature, our flesh, our frailty. The God who entered into history, into our world as a helpless baby boy born to two poor Jews. His first night was spent in a barn, he slept in a manger, and the only ones who witnessed his arrival were animals and some low class shepherds. The stars proclaimed his birth, but none of the wise men of Israel noticed. Only pagan astrologers from far away even bothered to search for the boy. This is the King, the anointed one born to break the rod of the slave-master; the one who as a man would give his life on a cross to pay for our sins.
Now, as I said before, Christmas isn't just a time for remembering. It is also a time for looking forward. It is a time for preparation.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, 12 training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14 He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:11-14
It's been 2000 years and Jesus still hasn't returned. Some people are beginning to think he'll never come back. Others get caught up in day to day living, they think he's coming back, but no time soon. So, they don't bother getting ready.
The Apostle Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:3 that “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
In our Lords first coming he brought forgiveness and grace to all who would receive. He brought the Holy Spirit to give us spiritual birth – to make us alive to God. To make us his brothers and sisters, children of God. That offer still stands. Now's the time to prepare yourself for Christ's return. When he returns he will bring complete and total redemption for his people, and complete and total destruction for those who remain in rebellion.
This is the one whose birth we celebrate. This is the one whose return we look for with hopeful anticipation. One day he will complete his work and “every knee [will] bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue [will] acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Prepare yourself for the Advent of the King.