Summary: Christ came near to us at Christmas
He is Near
Series: Prepare the Way
December 1, 2013
This message is adapted from the Wesleyan Church materials called Prepare the Way
The season of Advent seems to be filled with a need to wait. Waiting is not always the biggest strong suit of people. We live in a society that seems to eliminate the need to wait. There are continually faster and faster computers to help us access the information we desire at greater speeds. We are a society of fast food, get rich quick schemes and rapid weight loss. We want what we want and we want it right now. The fact of the matter is that most people act like children when it comes to waiting.
Advent is filled with the sense of restoration
Israel was waiting for a new king to rise in the line of David, who would restore David’s kingdom. There was no greater king in Israel’s history than David. The nation was looking for a messiah to be the mighty warrior and drive the Romans from Israel’s borders. This is one of the reasons that Jesus dispersed large crowds during His ministry because they wanted to make Him king.
Advent is filled with the sense of redemption
Israel had a history of God bringing them back from the brink of destruction. Their return from the Babylonian exile is an excellent example of how God had worked in the past and they expected more of the same. The nation was looking for God to send a King who would redeem them from the pagan influence of the Roman government.
Advent is filled with the sense of rescue
Israel had long waited for God to rescue them from the hands of their oppressors. They expected a King to rise from their midst who would rescue them from their political and economic suffering. Israel was looking for a king who would make Israel the superpower they once were and pull them out of the pit they were currently in.
Jesus came to save His people from their sins. The word Matthew uses for save means to rescue. Jesus came to rescue humanity from the grim reality of sin and the pending separation from God. The fact is that everyone is in need of a rescue from sin. The wages of sin is death and everyone has the same problem. Jesus came to solve the sin problem through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead.
Waiting is the exact opposite of our modern society’s view of Christmas. Society views Christmas as a time of rush and busyness. We make Christmas about shopping, spending and doing as much as possible. Could it be that we have missed the true reality of Christmas? Could it be that we have lost the spirit of that first Christmas?
As we seek to embrace the season of Advent, we should do so with a willingness to be patient. We should embrace a willingness to wait. We should have a spirit of anticipation because the best things that God desires to do are yet to come. We should be eager because God is far from being done with His work.
Read Luke 1:5-25
5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years. 8 Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." 18 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." 19 The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time." 21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. 23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 "The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people."