Summary: The 1st Sunday in advent is a time to focus on the second coming of Christ and making sure we are prepared.
It’s hard to believe but we are already into the Christmas season, and I’m not talking about the shopping season that began on black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. I am referring to the Christian season we call Advent. As I’ve already mentioned we are in the first Sunday of Advent which means “coming.” It marks the four weeks leading up to the celebration of the coming of the Christ child into our world on Christmas day. During Advent we prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus Christ into our world. Beginning last week we have been getting our church ready through the decorations. We’ve brought out the nativity and the Christmas tree (Christmon). You may have noticed the colors have changed to purple as a symbol of royalty for the coming of the King of kings. But Advent helps remind us that this season is more than just about decorating, or shopping, or wrapping and giving gifts, or baking and eating good food, these are all fun and enjoyable parts, but Advent reminds us this season is about Jesus. As the saying goes, ‘Jesus is the reason for the season.’ It is easy for us to get caught up in the activities of the season while losing our focus on what it is really all about.
During Advent we remember that we are in a time of waiting and preparing for the coming of Christ. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been patient waiting for the coming of anything I have looked forward to. I remember as a child before one Christmas, I couldn’t wait to see what I was going to get for Christmas. I couldn’t stand not knowing if my parents had gotten a gift that I really wanted (like the kid in the movie “A Christmas Story” who wanted the Red-Rider Beebe Gun). So I snuck through the whole house trying to find my presents. And do you know what, I was successful. I found them. Of course then came the difficult part, I had to wait to get it, and then I had to pretend like I didn’t know I was going to get it. I’ll tell you what, I learned a lesson that Christmas. I never went looking for my presents again because I had spoiled the surprise.
When we think of Advent we typically think of waiting for the birth of Jesus when the Son of God became like one of us and was born into our world. I said Advent means “coming,” I didn’t say which coming of Christ we are preparing for. In Advent we are actually waiting and preparing for two arrivals of Jesus, his birth and his second coming, which is what this first Sunday in Advent focuses on, the Lord’s return. The Lord’s a comin’.
The Scriptures are incredibly clear on this point. Jesus died, he rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and he is coming back to judge all people past and present. Only when Jesus comes back it isn’t going to be like the sequels of most movies, which are never as good as the first. When Jesus comes back it’ s going to be way more impressive than his first coming. He won’t be making a quiet entrance like he did the first time in a stable in Bethlehem with only a few people on hand to even notice something significant has happened. When Jesus comes again, the Scriptures say he will come in the clouds with power and glory to gather his children from the ends of the earth (Mt. 24:30), and Rev. 1:7 tells us every person on earth will see him coming. Angels will be playing their trumpets, it will be a worldwide event. It won’t be just a few shepherds and Magi who know of his arrival. Everyone will know he’s here. In fact it says there will be great mourning, or weeping as it says in Revelation, why? I believe it will be because people will be confronted with their sin in the light of Christ’s glory. Like in the book of Isaiah when the prophet had a vision where he was before the Lord in the throne room. What did he do in response to being in God’s glorious presence? He said, “woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips.” The Lord’s presence was so powerful, so overwhelming, so holy and pure all he could think about was his sin. God symbolically forgave him by having an angel touch a hot coal to his lips, just as those who are in Christ are forgiven on the Day of Judgment.
Many of us are just like the disciples who wondered when Jesus was coming back. Inquiring minds want to know. Jesus said there would be signs for us to look for so we would know when he was returning. Jesus said false prophets would come claiming to be the Messiah who will lead many astray, even Christians (24:4). One false prophet in particular, some call him the antichrist (although Scripture never mentions him as such), will raise himself up as God doing miraculous signs and wonders. There will be wars and rumors of wars, nation will turn against nation (24:6). Many have pointed to the fact that in the 20th century we experienced two world wars involving many nations of the world, killing more people than ever before. Jesus said there will be famines and earthquakes (24:7) and other cosmic events around the world (some claim there have been more earthquakes in the last 100 years than the previous 1900 combined). He said Christians will get persecuted, and sin will be rampant. It will be so bad the whole human race would come to extinction during this time of tribulation, except that God will shorten the time for the sake of believers. On the brighter side the Good News about God’s kingdom will be preached among all the nations. After all these events occur, within one generation, the Son of Man will appear on the clouds of heaven.