Jesus’ arrival, a baby boy born to traveling parents, laid in a manger, gets ‘prettied up’ in our retelling. We bring all our ooh’s and aah’s as if he arrived in the hospital maternity wing, the next beautiful baby to love and admiration. Truth is, he came to a desperate situation, to a world that was not wonderful, with a mission from His Father that would turn history inside out! That cute baby was the Lord of Glory who declared war on sin and evil, who confronted hypocrisy and empty religion, and who offered Himself as a sacrifice, becoming sin for me- for you. The spiritual world was shaken in ways beyond our wildest imagination when the Creator entered His Creation, God become Flesh.
Set aside the cultural wrapping and read what John says about Jesus’ birth: “He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn’t even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.” (John 1:10-12, The Message) “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” (John 1:14, The Message)
He did not come to make life marginally better, to improve our standard of living. He came to declare war on sin, to defeat Satan, and to set captives of death free to live. This is the amazing meaning of our celebration of Advent. When we believe that, the Truth changes us: hopeless to hopeful, unloved to loved, sinner to saint.
But, the whole story was not written 2,000 years ago. Luke tells the story of the baby who grew to be the Savior. Advent’s celebration of the Birth is incomplete with an anticipation of the King’s arrival, described in John’s Revelation: “Riding the clouds, he’ll be seen by every eye, those who mocked and killed him will see him, People from all nations and all times will tear their clothes in lament. ” (Revelation 1:7, The Message) “I turned and saw the voice. I saw a gold menorah with seven branches, And in the center, the Son of Man, in a robe and gold breastplate, hair a blizzard of white, Eyes pouring fire-blaze, both feet furnace-fired bronze, His voice a cataract, right hand holding the Seven Stars, His mouth a sharp-biting sword, his face a perigee sun. I saw this and fainted dead at his feet. His right hand pulled me upright, his voice reassured me: “Don’t fear: I am First, I am Last, I’m Alive. I died, but I came to life, and my life is now forever. See these keys in my hand? They open and lock Death’s doors, they open and lock Hell’s gates.“ (Revelation 1:12-18, The Message)
The King will come- to set things right, to judge the world, with His reward. That is the rest of the story. What a vision. Go back and re-read it. Yes, it’s weird language but John is attempting to describe the Majesty that assures us when death threatens, when life goes terribly ‘wrong’ for us, when we are tempted by fear. The Cute Baby is the Lord, Majestic and Powerful.
I am so thankful that a Baby came to become my Savior, but I am also so thankful that a King will come with my reward, with the long awaiting vindication of those who have lived and died, often without recognition, for His cause.
As you head into this Monday, anchor your life in the Savior/King. Enrich the celebration of Advent by telling the whole story.
Here is a word from the Word. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” (Philippians 2:5-10, NIV)
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
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.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art.
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King.
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious Kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit,
Rule in all our hearts alone.
By Thine all sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne!
Charles Wesley © Words: Public Domain