Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Contrary to popular thought, it is not a countdown to Christmas. Advent is a time dedicated to waiting. It is, as author Timothy Paul Jones writes, “(It is) the proclamation of the sufficiency of Christ through the discipline of waiting.” Most of us would agree waiting is definitely a discipline. I, like many, have fallen into the trap and lie of busyness, chaos, and hectic schedules. Hence, I, like many, do not like the words “anticipate,” “patience,” and “wait.” But this is what Advent is all about. It involves slowing pace… waiting… preparing… and anticipating. This morning I would like to invite you to join me during this season of Advent learning or re-learning the discipline of pause and patience. Join me in preparation and anticipation for the coming King Jesus. May it be a time to celebrate and declare that God Himself has come to the world in the flesh, He dwelt among us, and He showed us the way to the Kingdom. Let us prepare for and anticipate His return in full glory to establish His Kingdom here on earth for all eternity.
So, what is Advent? I am glad you asked… The word “advent” is taken from the Latin word Adventus which means arrival or coming. It is the Latin translation of the Greek word parousia, which the New Testament most often points to Jesus’ second coming (advent). It is believed that Advent started sometime around or after the 4th century. It was originally observed as a time of preparation for Epiphany (also known as Three Kings Day) which is a celebration and observance of the visitation from the Magi and the baptism of Jesus. Thus, Epiphany is a time new Christians were baptized and received into the faith. It was during this time the early church instituted a 40-day period of fasting and repentance.
Advent was not a celebration of the first coming of the Christ-child, but rather, a time of anticipation and preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. By the 8th Century, the church adopted what western Christianity today observes as Advent. From that point on Advent has become the celebration of the Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, the anticipation of his second advent, and the remembering his presence (dwelling) among believer through the Holy Spirit.
Everything about Christ’s first advent points us to humility and in the same manner it is a celebration of our humble Savior reigning as the sovereign King of all Creation. We see in the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus that even though he is the King of all he lived a life of a servitude and humility. One would think that when God himself came to this earth it would have been a magnificent spectacle as He sets up his Kingdom, establishes his authority, seeks to straighten humanity out from corrupt humanity, and set things on a right course. But that is not what or how it happened.
Jesus was called to be great, and he is called the Son of the Most-High, who will receive the throne of David, reign over all of Israel, and there will be no end to His kingdom. But, before we can recognize Him as the Prince of peace and King of Kings, we must recognize that He came and dwelt among us, He was God in human flesh who lived a life of humility in obedience to the father and pointed all to the pathway of the Kingdom of God. In order for us to recognize this, it is important to go back to the beginning.
John 1:1 - 18
Vs 1 – 3: “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Since the beginning of time the Word (Jesus) was present with the Father. There has not been a time when the Word did not exist. We read later that the Word is Jesus, and he is eternal, He was not created, and He has always been. The Word (Jesus) was with God… this does not mean he was in close proximity, but he was in an intimate personal relationship with the Father. He was one with the Father. Not only was the Word with God but the Word was also the very essence of God Himself. I like the way The New English Translation reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God.
Vs 4 - 5: The Word gives life… Jesus didn’t just possess life; he is the source of life… He is the source of the physical and the spiritual life. He is the Creator of all physical life and through his death, resurrection, and ascension He is the source of Spiritual life to all who believe.
Jesus is the light. He is the light that dispels darkness. Darkness is synonymous to death, wickedness, and evil and the Word (Jesu) who is the light casts away the darkness. Darkness, death, and evil will try to overcome Jesus (as we will see in the Gospel) but to no avail. Christ defeats death and brings light to the world! F.F. Bruce writes in his commentary, “Light and darkness are opposites, but they are not opposites of equal power. Light is stronger than darkness; and darkness cannot prevail against it.”
Vs 6 – 8: John is referring to John the Baptist. Apostle John (who incidentally is not John the Baptist) says that John is not the light but the witness to the light. His job and purpose in life was to prepare the way and testify of the coming Messiah who is Jesus.
Vs 9 – 13: Jesus is the true light. Others may have made this claim but Jesus is the real deal. He gives light to all who believe in Him. He came to the world to bring the light and the world (namely his own people) did not receive Him, instead they crucified him and left Him for dead. However to those who did receive Him He gave them the power or right to be called children of God. He has given us Spiritual re-birth! We are not born again of humans but are born again through the Spirit of God and declared His children. To those who believe we are now considered members of God’s family.
Vs 14- 18: I consider this to be the climax of the Christmas story. In these verses we have looked at today we discover seven essential truths about Jesus. These truths give us an overall view of our Savior and Lord as we celebrate his first advent.
1.Jesus is the Word
2.Jesus is God.
3.Jesus is eternal.
4.Jesus is Creator of all things, and all things were created for Him.
5.Jesus is life
6.Jesus is the true light that dispels darkness.
7.Jesus became a man and dwelt among humanity, was rejected, crucified, and rose from the dead.
The Word became flesh: This is called the incarnation. This means the eternal God, Creator of all, and the light of the world became human and dwelt among us. John, the author of this gospel, was an eyewitness to the Word as he walked with, talked to, and touched the living God in human flesh.
The observance and celebration of Advent is important because it is a time for us to observe that God came into the world as a human to show us the way to the Kingdom of God. It was imperative for Jesus to become human because as Hebrews 4:15 states (in reference to Jesus), “So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.”
We should take comfort in this because we know that the one we serve and worship has been in our shoes. He has experienced what we have experienced. He can truly say, “I know what you are going through.” Jesus experienced anger, hunger, exhaustion, sadness, pain, suffering, poverty, anxiety, temptation, etc. as a human and was still lived a life without sin.
We can take comfort in knowing that Jesus since Jesus is our perfect High Priest, He will never leave us ill equipped to face the difficulties in life. Whatever difficulties we have faced in life Jesus has been through as well. Thus, this makes him an approachable Savior who can empathize with our earthly struggles.
On the other hand, he is fully eternal God. Colossians 1:15, 16 states, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.”
Only God creates and this shows that Jesus is also Creator making him equal to God.
The Savior, Jesus, who is without beginning or end, took on the form of a man and experienced life on earth as a human. He gave his life up as an offering to God, rose from the dead and ascended to the Father so that all who believe in Jesus (in faith) can also share in the resurrected life. Truly this is a Savior who is worthy to follow in obedience in faith and to proclaim to all the nations.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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