Happy Advent! “Advent” means “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event” “especially of something momentous,” according to a quick search of online dictionaries. In the Christian church calendar, it means waiting for and celebrating the arrival of Jesus, God in human flesh. It’s worth celebrating, for the people of God had been waiting for this event for hundreds of years!
Have you ever thought about why the church was waiting for Jesus in the first place? He didn’t just appear, do some amazing things, and get talked about after that–the Jewish people, the people Jesus was born into, had been anticipating his arrival for a very long time. How did they even know that a Messiah, a Savior, was coming?
Now, to be clear, most Jews are still waiting. They didn’t see in Jesus the person they were waiting for. There are lots of reasons for that (to explain in another post, perhaps). For the people who did–and do–see Jesus as this “notable person” who they’d been waiting for, why?
Last week we talked about promises, mostly the promises we make to one another. Well, God, from the very beginning, made a very big promise to Adam and Eve, and to all of us: He promised us a Savior.
In the very first book of the Bible, in Gen. 3:15, God promises that someone was coming who would “crush the head” of the serpent who deceived Adam and Eve and led them astray.
Later, the prophet, Isaiah, foretold in 42:1-4:
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight,
I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice, he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his law the islands will put their hope.
It was also predicted that the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isa 7:14; cf. Mt 1:33). His birthplace would be Bethlehem (Mic 5:2; cf. Mt 2:1, 6), and John the Baptist would be his forerunner (Isa 40:3-5; Mal 3:1; cf. Mt 3:3, Mk 1:3; Lk 3:4-6).
And in Isaiah 35:4-6, there is this prediction about the coming of a Savior:
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
Who does that sound like? Sounds like Jesus, to me. Over this holiday season, may you seek the One who came to rescue us from our blindness, to help us leap like a deer, and to shout for joy.
Happy Advent, and Merry Christmas!
See you in the new year!