“[The Grace of God]… which now has been manifested
through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus,
who abolished death
and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…”
(2 Timothy 1:10)
Here we are, once again, in the first week of another Advent Season. The Christmas decorations are up, the lights are shining, the music is playing, and The Christmas Story movie is undoubtedly already playing on a continuous cycle from now until the end of the month. Ah Christmas!
I’ve been especially struck by the idea of Advent this year. The word “advent” means “coming.” In the Advent Season, we celebrate Christ’s coming for our salvation, and are encouraged to remember, long for, and prepare for His glorious return. He has come, and He is coming again!
In my sermons this Advent, I’ve been asking the question, “Why Did Jesus Come?” We’ve been looking at those verses where Jesus tells us why He came (to bring fire, to fulfill the law…). Still, maybe a better question to ask would be, “For Whom Did Jesus Come?”
Thinking about the way Christ came to be with us, and who He came to be with – just thinking about this is staggering.
He came, from the realm of glory, to be born, meek and mild, the King of Glory enthroned in a humble manger. He came, heralded by the Heavenly Host of Angels, and was greeted by lowly, working-class shepherds. He came, full of grace and truth, teaching the wisdom of God, and He was surrounded by the blind, the sick, the poor, the outcast – all those who had been rejected by the world. He came full of righteousness and bringing the judgment of God, and was friend to sinners, the prostitutes and the tax collectors.
He came to these. He came for these. The Incarnate Word of God, Emmanuel, God with us, to seek and to save the lost.
Christ is the Lord of the universe – “by him all things were created… and in him all things hold together (Col 1:16-17) – therefore we must meet Him as He is. If we want to find Him, to know Him, to walk with Him, to be found with Him, then we need to first recognize ourselves among those for whom He came. We have to see our brokenness and our desperate need for a savior to come. We need to realize we are the blind, the sick, the poor, the sinner; we are the ones for whom He came. As long as we keep denying this truth about ourselves, then Jesus will always be coming for someone else, one of them over there. But once we realize who we are, and that we are the ones Jesus came for – then we will know Him and we will know great joy.
This is the tremendous grace and mercy that we find at Christmas, the beautiful reminder of God’s love in Advent. This is why the heavens rang out with “good news of great joy.” He has come for us. We did not deserve it, we could not earn it, but God loved us so much that He sent His Son for us. We are the ones for whom He came. He has come to be Savior to those dead in their sins, Shepherd to the lost, Healer of the sick, Light for those in darkness, Hope for those in despair, Friend of sinners.
This is the grace which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. This is the grace that comes to us in Advent. “Glory to God in the Highest!”