I loves me the Advent season! Not only do we decorate our church facility very nicely (which some of our FCCers look forward to all year), and not only do we sing some of my favorite music (which other FCCers look forward to all year), but we focus on one of the most crucial moments in the history of humanity -- the Incarnation.
We really should be thinking about that all year ’round, but this season brings it into such a sharp focus. God became one of our family, so that He could ultimately bring us back into His family. That’s an amazing thing, and it too easily gets lost among tinsel and ribbons and Christmas trees and baking cookies and finding just the right sweater for Uncle Phil and scrambling at the last minute to prepare all of the things that people have such emotive expectations about each year.
Stop for one moment and consider this: if no decorations are hanging up anywhere, and no special Christmas dinner is made, and no presents are sitting under any trees, did Christ still come to live amongst us as one of us so that He could break the power of sin and death in our lives? Does “Christmas” still happen, even without the cultural trappings?
Hey, if the Grinch could figure that much out, then the rest of us really ought to think a little more prominently about where our priorities are set...
So we began a new, Advent sermon series, looking at the “looking forward to” parts of Christmas. What did the people of God know about what they should be expecting from the Messiah, how did Jesus fulfill those right expectations (and/or refuse to fulfill those wrong ones), and what can you and I learn from all of that on this side of that first Christmas?
For instance, the Diemer family lit our first Advent Candle this year, and shared about the hope that we have in Christ. So what hope did people have about the coming Messiah before He came?
Well, immediately after the very first sin in Genesis 3, God held Adam, Eve, and Satan accountable for their actions -- thrusting Satan into the punishment of being trapped in this place -- and yet, He also promised that a child born of woman would someday crush Satan’s head.
Jesus calls Satan “the prince of this world” and Peter equates him with a “roaring lion looking for someone to devour” -- he’s stuck here alongside all of us, and he’s thrashing around trying to hurt as many people as he can. He’s meaner that we are, craftier than we are, and he’s got nothing to lose. Over the centuries this world had been his princedom, his hunting grounds, and he’d built an unassailable kingdom of sin and death.
But over and over in the New Testament, we’re told that the main reason that Jesus came in the first place was to “destroy the devil’s works,” for the “the prince of this world” to be “driven out,” and that His work on the cross defeated the “sting” of death -- our sin. That’s an amazing work and a proven hope that should change how we live today in this world.
Jesus came to defeat Satan’s angry, hungry, desperate, destructive hatred...
And He did...
So let’s live like that today.