Summary: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:4-6)
! Theme: Rejoice in your salvation
Text: Mal. 3:1-4; Phil. 1:3-11; Lk. 3:1-6
Introduction: Today is the 2nd Sunday of Advent. Advent refers to the coming of Christ and reminds us not only of His birth but also of His return. It is customary to announce important people before welcoming them. John came to announce the coming Messiah. In spite of this and the many revelations about His birth, only a few people took notice of His presence. Is the same thing not possible concerning His return in spite of the many revelations about His second coming? Advent therefore should not only be a time of preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth but also a time of preparation for His return. Advent is a time to reflect on the birth of Christ, His finished work on the cross and His promised return and rejoice in our salvation.
Step One: The finished work of Christ
a) Christ paid the penalty for sin
Jesus Christ became a man to redeem humanity for all men “have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Christ died in our place to pay the penalty for sin “For the wages of sin is death”. (Rom 6:23) His death restored the broken relationship between God and man.
b) Christ made man righteous
When Jesus Christ became sin with our sinfulness we were made righteous with His righteousness. Our righteousness does not depend on us but on Christ for “By grace are we saved through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God”. (Eph. 2:8)
c) Christ made us God’s beloved children
The righteousness of Christ has made believers God’s beloved children who have access to His presence and to His grace. The grace of God is not only God’s undeserved favour but also God’s empowerment to lead a new abundant life.
Illustration: Christ has paid the price for our salvation by the shedding of His Blood. In our sinful condition we could not do anything that is pleasing to God but Christ became our perfect Lamb and shed His blood for our salvation. God sent a witness to prepare us for this great revelation. Just as in Exodus God sent an angel ahead of the Israelites to prepare the way to the Promised Land so He sent John to prepare the way for the Promised Messiah and our salvation. Unfortunately no one likes to do what is involved in the preparation especially in our time when we are used to having what we want instantly. Life however requires preparation and it is in the preparation that we will either win or lose. It has been said that all is well that begins well. The right preparation for the Lord is to believe that Jesus Christ is God and have a personal relationship with Him. Are we ready to celebrate the birth of Christ and are we ready for His return?
Application: Have you prepared the way for Jesus? Have you dealt with the misconceptions about Christ hindering your acceptance of His great salvation? Whatever it is God wants to take care of it so that you can accept Him as Saviour and Lord this Advent.
Step Two: The certainty of Christ’s return
a) Christ has promised to return
The reason to rejoice in your salvation is the certainty of Christ’s return. Christ has promised He will return and “His word is truth”. (John 17:17) Many of the things Christ said and promised have already been fulfilled. His death and resurrection, His ascension to heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit happened just the way He said. The fulfilment of these events confirms that all He said that has not yet been fulfilled will also be fulfilled.
b) Christ wants everyone to be saved
Christ does not want anyone to be lost; He wants everyone to be saved. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. (John 3:16) “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. For whoever believes in Him is not condemned”. (John 3:17)
c) Christ wants everyone to have life
Christ came that we may “have life and have it more abundantly”. (John 10:10) How will Christ find us when He returns? Will He find us living an abundant life as we faithfully wait for His return or will He find us busily engaged in pursuing worldly goals without any concern about His return?
Illustration: Many people are more concerned about the time of Christ’s return than about the certainty of it. It is for the same reason why workers want to know when the head is returning? It is also for the same reason why children left at home alone want to know when their parents are returning? When we know when someone is coming back, then we also know for how long we can do what we want to do. We believe that by planning our time we can still get ready and no one would know what we had done. Like in the days of Noah people today are doing what they want to do and not heeding the warning that Christ will return. Just as in Noah’s day the people laughed at him when he warned of the coming judgment, so today many people are not concerned about their salvation and the Second Coming of Christ. And just as the flood brought sudden judgment to the world, so the return of Christ will do the same and unbelievers will once again face death and judgment.