The Coming Of Christ
As they say, “Tis the Season!”
The Christmas Trees are up with their twinkling lights, the baubles are hanging reflecting the moments that pass beneath them, and the dreaded Christmas carols are playing in Malls, stores and on the radio.
This is the season where many denominations of the Christian church, including The Salvation Army, celebrate Advent.
Advent is the English version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”. This is the season where we celebrate the first coming of Jesus Christ. The Christmas story almost needs no reminder: 2000 years ago, in a little, sleepy town in Bethlehem, an unwed girl (probably in her teens) named Mary gave birth to a baby boy whom she named Jesus. His birth was foretold hundreds of years throughout what we now call the Old Testament (the first part of the Bible). Shepherds where watching their flocks during the night, when angels announced to them that the waited for Messiah would be shortly born. They traveled to Bethlehem where they found the baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
That was the “coming” or the advent of Jesus Christ. A story that is so familiar that we can perhaps overlook some really interesting details.
In this short little story, the birth of Jesus fulfilled several prophecies from the Old Testament. The most important two, were, ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ found in Micah 5:2. In addition there is also this prophecy, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” found in Isaiah 7:14.
The Jewish people had been waiting for the Messiah to come for hundreds of years. They had not had a prophet from God for four hundred years alone, the anticipation is amazing. The Messiah would come, from the line of David and become the warrior king that Israel needed to get out from under the thumb of the Roman occupation.
But they had missed the point.
They were enslaved, enslaved to sin and death. Instead of being freed from sin through the ritual of Temple sacrifice, they had instead become slaves to sin by relying on a process rather than the God that had provided that process. The advent of the Messiah, was so that there would be one sacrifice for all time. No longer would there be an endless ritual of killing animals, but instead the Son of God would die on the Cross of Calvary so that all people could be free from sin and live in a relationship with God (John 3:16).
2000 years later, that same freedom is still offered through the grace of God. Any person, anywhere in the world can have access to God through the Cross of Christ.
That is why we celebrate Christmas. Because Jesus Christ, the Son of God was true to His Word and came into this world, not with the fanfare or glory that He deserved, but instead, came into this world humbly, through an unwed mother, born in a dirty, dank stable. Instead of the kings and nobles of His people, he was instead greeted by lowly shepherds, sharing His birthplace with animals. Thirty three years later, He died on a cross so that He could save the world. His name, Jesus, means “God will save His people.”
Praise God, that He keeps His promises! Praise God for the advent or coming of His Son Jesus Christ.