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.
Peace is an inherent desire of the human heart. We do not like to be upset, or in constant conflict; we long for peace. While we tend to define peace as simply the absence of conflict, true peace goes much deeper than that.
The promise of peace – true peace, shalom – is woven throughout Scripture. When God’s originally-created peace was shattered in the garden, He promised one day to restore that peace. One of the most common commands in the Old Testament is “fear not,” which usually preceded a promise from God to be with His people, even though the situation they faced was far from peaceful. Israel experienced periods of relative peace as they obeyed God and faithfully served Him.
When Jesus came to earth, He brought a message of peace. In announcing His birth, the angels proclaimed “Peace, goodwill to men” (Luke 2:14). In His ministry, Jesus showed His ability to bring peace to the natural world, calming a storm with the words “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39). And, when Jesus tells His disciples about the Holy Spirit, He said “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27).
Christ-followers since that day can testify to the abiding peace of God even in the midst of difficult circumstances. And, while we know that “wars, and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6) will increase, we also look, with longing hearts, to that day when Jesus returns to make an end of all war (Isaiah 2:4), and restore His shalom once again.
Today, as we light the candle of peace, we celebrate the gift of peace, and look forward to the peace yet to come.
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.