Summary: Sermon for Advent on the return of Christ
DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
Once when he was vacationing in Denver, President Dwight Eisenhower was reading the local newspaper. His eyes fell on an open letter that told of a six-year-old boy living there named Paul Haley who was dying of cancer. The letter said he had one wish before he died; he wanted to meet the president of the United States. Spontaneously, in one of those gracious gestures he was known for, President Eisenhower decided to grant the boy’s request. So on a Sunday morning in August, a big limousine pulled up in front of the Haley home, and out stepped the president.
He walked up to the door and knocked. Dale Haley, the boy’s father, in his old blue jeans, a faded shirt, unshaven and half-awake, came to the door. What a shock! There was the president standing on his doorstep! The chief executive came in, shook hands with Paul, talked to him for a while, took him out to show him the presidential limousine, and then left. In the weeks that followed, the Haleys and their neighbors often talked about what a kind and thoughtful thing Eisenhower did.
But there was one person who wasn’t entirely happy about it. “Those jeans, the old shirt, the unshaven face,” bemoaned Paul’s father. “What a way to meet the President of the United States.” He regretted that he didn’t get up earlier and shave sooner that morning, but because the president showed up unannounced, he was not prepared!1
A surprise visit from the president would be an occasion, but imagine the day when Jesus returns. The New Testament speaks of that day 300 times, directly or indirectly. The readiness factor cannot be overemphasized. There will be only one return of Christ, or as the Macy’s ads always proclaim “One day!”
Jeremiah wrote of a righteous branch from David’s line who would come and deliver His people. That would be a long time coming for those who heard those words. Jesus told of the end of days when He would come and redeem His people. That would be an even longer time; indeed, we don’t know the day.
Behold the days are coming, and so we wait, and wait . . . and wait. But we wait in anticipation, we have to look past the celebration of Christ’s birth to the day of His return if we would be completely prepared. Oddly enough, we celebrate or at least observe the season of Advent because it’s hard to celebrate themes like fear and trembling, death and destruction, signs and warnings.
They don’t really scream “Rejoice! Who wants eggnog?” It’s a waiting game and if there’s anything Christmas has become, it’s not a season of waiting. Each year the shopping season
1 Seamands, Stephen, Give Them Christ: Preaching His Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurr3ection, Ascension, and Return, pg. 158159
gets bumped up into October. Someday they’ll just hang the Halloween decorations on the actual Christmas trees in the stores.
As much as we want to we can rush the season, but it’s going to have no effect on what Advent is all about and that’s watching and waiting. You think kids get antsy waiting for Santa? Try a whole nation of exiled or persecuted people waiting for their redeemer. Actually, we are witnessing something very much like that right now with the Syrian refugees. These people are in limbo, living in fear and waiting for help.
The days are surely coming. A promise is a promise, so God will fulfill His word. He would raise up a righteous branch, a branch of David’s family line. This leader will execute justice and righteousness. His name means righteousness, our righteousness, so if we struggle to find our own we will always be disappointed. We identify Jesus with this promise, although no descendant of David would ever sit on an earthly throne again, Jesus is a descendant, even born in the city of David – Bethlehem.
If you’re thinking the covenant is only partially fulfilled you’re right. The second half is yet to come, which is what Jesus wanted His followers to know. We know what to expect, but not when; although there are indications, we need to live prepared. Not in a bunker-building, water-hoarding, Doomsday preppers kind of way, but in a way that honors God.
Christ 2.0. The next installment. He will be back, and we shouldn’t fear what is happening, because if not for the signs we wouldn’t know. When we see the things that cause us to panic and wonder, we should look up because it means our redemption is coming. We can’t bury our heads in the sand. This will come upon the whole world at one time, instantaneously, unmistakably, so we best be ready.