Jesus Christ – the Word made flesh, the Lamb of God, the Bread of Life, the Good Shepherd - He is the One we celebrate today. For the past four weeks, we have anticipated His arrival, and today, we celebrate Him!
He came to fulfil our hope, giving His life to pay a debt that we could never pay ourselves. He made it possible for us to have a restored relationship with God, the One Who created us. He also gave us the confident expectation that, one day, all that is wrong with the world will be made right, and we will live with Him forever.
He brought peace into a turbulent world. Those who allow His peace to permeate their lives enjoy peace in their hearts, even if their circumstances are far from peaceful. God’s peace restores relationships among one another, regardless of gender or ethnicity. We also look toward the day He returns, to make an end to all war, and bring His perfect peace.
He gave us joy. We have been forgiven by the very One Who was wronged by our sin - why wouldn’t we rejoice?! We also rejoice that the Almighty God, creator of the universe, cared enough about lowly man that He sent His Son for us. He gives us joy even when we walk through unhappy times; and, as we look forward, we anticipate ever-increasing joy.
He showed us love. Jesus’s great love for us motivated His arrival and life on this earth, and Scripture records many times where He demonstrated love to those He encountered. He bore our sin because of His great love for us. As we look to His return, we anticipate living under His loving care forever.
Today, as we light the Christ candle, we celebrate the One Who brought hope, peace, joy, and love into our lives, and continue to look forward to His second Advent, when He restores original, sinless perfection.
Hope, for the Christ-follower, has always been a treasured and unique aspect of our faith. From the fall of man recorded in Genesis 3, man looked forward with expectant hope for the one who would crush the head of the deceiver. While in bondage in Egypt, Israel hoped for the day when God would free them from their bonds. Then, as they wandered through the wilderness, those who were to enter the Promised Land had a hope that the God Who led them through the wilderness would lead them into the land of milk and honey.
While this hope was revealed to – and coming through – the line of Abraham, God foreshadowed that this hope was not just for the Jews. Rahab and Ruth, both members of nations defeated by Israel, were grafted into the line of hope. As Israel conquered and ruled the Promised Land, their need for judges and desire for kings had, at its heart, a desperate need for this hope of a Savior. As Israel was led into captivity, their hope was for a Messiah who would vanquish their captors.
We know how this hope unfolded; God sent His Son to this earth to free His people, not from their human captors, but from an even stronger bondage – sin. The hope that began with man’s fall had come to pass; God had kept His word! As we live in the light of this fulfilled hope, we have a new hope, also based on the promises of God. The object of our hope is the same – Jesus Christ, who will return, not as a baby, but in full glory.
Today, we light the candle of hope, praising God for the hope He has given us, both fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled.
Last year, I wrote 5 Advent readings for our church, which we read in our services just before we lit each candle. Each candle (before Christmas) points to an aspect of the prophesied Redeemer:
The center candle, which we light on the Sunday on/after Christmas, represents Christ, the greatest gift.
Over the next 5 Saturdays, I’ll be sharing each of these. My prayer is that they encourage you and focus your heart as we remember that, not only was a Redeemer promised, He was given; and, when He returns, He will bring each of these aspects to their perfect completion on this earth!
Daniel is a man who wants to be used of God however He sees fit.