Revelation 1:7-8 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
I love the weeks leading up to Christmas – especially this final, countdown week. It’s almost as if there is this tangible sense of excitement and anticipation which intensifies as we march towards the 25th. It’s that feeling of being in the in-between – in between the here and the not yet, knowing what lies ahead but not quite having reached it!
For many Christians, the month before Christmas day is much like this. It is a season of preparation called ‘Advent’, which comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming”. Advent is a time of acknowledging that glorious in-between time between Jesus’ incarnation as a baby and His second coming as the judge of this world!
Advent is firstly a season of remembrance as we reflect on Jesus’ incarnation into the world. Just as it was promsied throughout the Old Testament, the Messiah would come into the world to save us from our sins! At Christmastime, we get to celebrate the fulfilment of that promise! We get to celebrate Jesus’ miraculous conception, His life, and His death and resurrection.
However, Advent is also a season of increasing anticipation as we look forward to the even greater thing He will do when He returns. For the promise the Lord gave us was not only that He would come once, but that He would come again and make all things new. Revelation 1:7-8 reminds us that Jesus will one day return and that all will bow before Him as King! When Jesus returns, His kingdom rule will be fully established on earth.
Karl Barth, a famous theologian, penned these words about what it’s like to live in between the fulfilled promise of Christ’s first coming and the coming fulfilment of His promise to return:
“Unfulfilled and fulfilled promise are related to each other, as are dawn and sunrise. Both promise and in face the same promise. If anywhere at all, then it is precisely in the light of the coming of Christ that faith has become Advent faith, the expectation of future revelation. But faith knows for whom and for what it is waiting. It is fulfilled faith because it lays hold on the fulfilled promise.”
Dear friend, it is precisely in this space of being in-between Jesus’ two advents that we get to learn something extremely valuable: how to wait expectantly.
We cannot rush the return of our Messiah. But as we wait, we get to learn to fix our eyes not only on what has happened in the past but to look forward to the glorious future that awaits us.
In the same way that we wait expectantly for Christmas day, on a larger scale, this season of Advent should point us to wait expectantly for Jesus’ return. It is a time where we get to train our hearts and minds to long desperately for Him.
So, this Christmas, how do we prepare our hearts not only to celebrate Jesus’ birth, but also to await His return?
How can you prepare your heart this week, not only for Christmas, but for Jesus’ return?
- I can celebrate all that Jesus has already done for us.
- I can reflect on the fact that He fulfils His promises.
- I can apportion some time to study the Word on His return.
Lord Jesus, You are majestic and glorious, the One who was, and is, and is to come. One day all will recognise You as the Son of God, and all shall bow at Your feet. Jesus, how I long for that day! This Advent season, I pray that You will help me to prepare my heart and mind for You. I want to know what it looks like to reflect with gratitude on all that You have done for us, as well as what it looks like to wait with eager anticipation and expectancy for Your return.
Lord God, thank You for being a promise-keeper. I know that You will stay true to Your Word and that You will come again. In Jesus’ name, amen.
This week, intercede for the same person. Pray for one person who does not know the love, grace and mercy of our God. Pray for their hearts to be open to Him this Christmas.