Come Lord Jesus (or How the Nativity Foreshadows the Eschatological Throne Scene)

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent. Coming from zero church background until I was 21 and then being limited to Southern Baptist life, the season of Advent is in many ways a new discovery for me. If you are in the same boat, a brief background concerning Advent may be in order. Advent is Latin for “coming” and is a season of anticipation that both reflects the waiting of the Jews (and all creation) for the Messiah and looks ahead to the second coming (Advent) of Christ. This is observed through various liturgical methods such as the lighting of candles.

My family has decided to observe Advent this year, in hopes of creating godly traditions for ourselves and Mary Grace. While we will be lighting candles, we also did not want to be merely ritualistic in our practice. So, I have been meditating on what it means to long for the return of Christ and to reflect on the importance of his Incarnation.

Initially I have been convicted by passages that speak of Israel’s rejection of Christ when He came. John 1:11 says “…his own people did not accept him.” When the Magi seek out Jesus by inquiring of Herod about the location of the “King of the Jews,” Matthew 2:3 says that Herod “…was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him.” The very people who were so desperate for a Messiah, a deliverer, simply did not want Him when He came. I’m not sure why, perhaps is was how He came or how He would die. He was not what they expected in any way, so they rejected Him in every way.

I say these passages have convicted me, because I do not always long for Christ’s return. Like most young men, I have my whole life ahead of me; I want to climb mountains, travel, write books, attend my daughters initiation as a nun (or her wedding); basically, I want to live life. I’m just not ready for Heaven, at least not yet.

But perhaps the abundance of my American living has blinded me to the cruelty of this age. Perhaps I need to open the paper and read about mothers selling their 5 year-old daughters to be sex slaves only to have them raped and murdered. I need to remember my friends who have suffered from crippling diseases. I need to remember that this world needed redemption. It needs a Savior to come and set things right. A Messiah to free the captives, heal the sick, and lift up the oppressed. We need our Lord Jesus to come.

And yet, I wonder if those who say they are waiting will like what they see when He does in fact return. Will we want the evil in us removed? Will we like that not only the 5 year-old girl is set free but just maybe her murderer will be too? Will we still accept our Savior if He doesn’t meet our expectations? Will we be like Jerusalem?

Yet conviction is a lovely thing in that it leads to repentance and that leads to restoration. At Chapel, God began to reveal to me why deep down, I do eagerly await His arrival. Across the way from me was an older man, you know the type: members-only jacket, comb over, mustache, black socks and sandals; he had his eyes closed, hands extended, face turned upwards, swaying and singing his heart out to Jesus. Right beside him was the Seminary president, all prim in his perfect suit with his neatly trimmed beard. And with dignity he too sang the same words to the same God with the same devotion.

I turned from this scene to observe to Nativity set up in front of the pulpit. In it I saw extreme opposites brought together for one thing, to worship Jesus: the stench of animal dung mingled with the sweet aroma of Frankincense and myrrh, dirt and gold, kings and shepherds, donkeys and angels, all gathered around the crying, helpless, supremely weak Creator of the Universe. Truly ALL creation was on hand to praise the humble king.

I was instantly brought to the throne scene from Revelation, when every tribe, nation, and tongue is praising the lamb who was slain. As I wept, I joined the president, the old man, the angels, and the shepherds singing “Come Lord Jesus, Come!” Come Lord, indeed!

May this Advent season reignite our passions for our Lord. May it increase our resolve to be about His business while He is away: loving, witnessing, sharing, and sacrificing. May this Advent season leave us singing with all the conviction in the world, “Come Lord Jesus, come!”

Michael is a student at Denver Seminary. This reflection is nearly two years old and he is grateful for how Advent has become apart of his family’s rhythms. He has grown in anticipation of Christ’s return mainly because he has grown in suffering. You can read his new Advent reflections at his blog, A Sprig of Hope, by clicking here.

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One response to “Come Lord Jesus (or How the Nativity Foreshadows the Eschatological Throne Scene)

  1. Georgie-ann

    Very beautiful!,…& thank you!

    “Mankind’s” slavery IS to Sin and the fallen sin nature intrinsically embedded in/(interwoven with) our “flesh.” And we absolutely DO take it all for granted, and even crave — especially when young — the kind of “life” we have (in many cases, been “sold”) to live out on its own often-overly-glorified terms,…and always wanting more, more, more. (And since I happen to be thinking in full technicolor-taste of a really great restaurant that I like at the moment, I’d have to say, we’re never “too old” to crave, either!)

    Hebrews 11:24,25
    24 “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;

    25 “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;”

    I don’t think that looking forward to, or enjoying, a good meal, (or many other things that are scripturally “OK”), is a “bad” thing — in and of itself — but IF the life of the senses has so captivated us that this is all we ever live for or seek, and we’ve been caught up in its web of lusts and strife and self-centered ingratitude, then we’ve gotten derailed from our full purpose “in God.”

    Our “freedom IN God” IS freedom from the slavery (and need) “to sin.” It is NOT just a freedom to live an unfocused and rambling life of the pleasures and indulgences of the senses that — technically speaking — “do not themselves break the rules:”

    The First Commandment:
    Mark 12:30 ” ‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.”

    IF we can get a good, honest look at ourselves in this regard, we should be able to “locate” ourselves somewhere on a spectrum that runs from “living a random, self-feeding life for ‘itself & myself’ only,” to “living life with a heart for God, & God’s Truth, Love, (& ‘Law’ — which IS Love), and which includes appropriate love and respect for myself and others.”

    Our “freedom in God” IS having the freedom FROM automatic slavery to reflexive, unreflective, self-impelled, animalistic behavior patterns (eat, sleep, sex, competition) — iow, biblical “darkness” — with, and by, the (spiritual) Gift of the awareness and ability to SEE, comprehend, and desire to live in accordance with God’s Word, Commandments, His Righteousness and Peace — iow, having scriptural/spiritual “light.”

    This is the Gift of God to us at Christmastime — Jesus — God Himself coming to indwell our poor and meager and “needy” flesh, and to pour the Light of Understanding into our hearts that we may be “born anew,” becoming spiritually endowed with New Life, New Hope, Living Water, the Breath of God.

    His “Light and Life” (spiritual substance) coming into “our darkness and death.”

    In preference to the distractions and appetites of the consuming flesh nature — always wanting/needing more, more, more of something — we begin, perhaps little by little, to desire and see the value of less — less “weight of the world,” less preoccupation with the things that keep our minds and hearts entangled and away from God, less attention to the “pseudo”-values that are upstaging the real values, and so on. This begins a type of willing/voluntary “fasting” which is not just connected to the food we eat, but to ALL the choices we make in our lives. We begin to see, desire, and desire to HAVE, a choice. This is a part of the Spirit of Advent, making Way for the Coming of that which we are anticipating, the Light of Christ coming into our own personal world.

    I was also a newcomer to Advent at one time. But it has become a precious season to me. (Now I tend to “Christmas shop” & “plan ahead” in the fall, and avoid making routine appointments in December, in order to minimize the inevitable commercial whirlwind effect of the season on my life! — “where there’s a will, there’s a way?”)

    One thing you said, though, is SO interesting to me, and for a lot of reasons: You commented on observing Advent, but not wanting the observance to be ritualistic, and I appreciate the meditation addition to the traditional candle-lighting.

    I have had to “think on these things” A LOT, especially since becoming a happily practicing Catholic. To me, an empty ritual and a simple ritual are two very different things. An “empty” ritual is a pretty scary concept, and we have been warned of the dangers both of substituting something like this for real faith, and of becoming “connected” to some forms of ungodliness. However, I also often hear (from “believers”) WAY more fear and scruples, paranoia and false accusations concerning “simple” Church rituals, — (such as Advent candle-lighting, which usually ARE explained in the course of a service or church season) — even more overt anxiety and conscientiousness-of-avoidance focused on something like this, than on their own every day poor choices in movies, apparel, attitudes and behavior. (???!) So, what gives?

    This whole question has always seemed a little bit “bizarre” to me, but I didn’t really have a clear explanation, until thinking on your post. If the First Commandment is to Love God with all of our being, this means that we also need to stay focused on our God, Whom we love! I think that a true “simple” ritual, that carries a blessing and has an understood meaning, is often a beautiful aid to remembering and staying focused, (without a lot of unnecessary and exorbitant hoop-la), on some aspect of God that can become very meaningful to us, and in a very quiet and peaceful, soul-affirming way. I don’t really see the harm in this at all. Of course, “beauty IS in the eye of the beholder,” and our faith levels and formation have individual characteristics as well. What benefits some, may not be particularly helpful to others. So, again, we must respect differences. But, thank you very much, for the topic!

    Some scriptures:

    Mark 1:1-8 (excerpts) [John the Baptist Prepares the Way]
    1 “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

    “I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way”—
    3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
    ‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.’ ”

    4 “And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. … 7 And this was his message: ‘After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’ ”

    2 Corinthians 4:2-7

    2 “We have renounced disgraceful ways (secret thoughts, feelings, desires and underhandedness, the methods and arts that men hide through shame); we refuse to deal craftily (to practice trickery and cunning) or to adulterate or handle dishonestly the Word of God, but we state the truth openly (clearly and candidly). And so we commend ourselves in the sight and presence of God to every man’s conscience.

    3 “But even if our Gospel (the glad tidings) also be hidden (obscured and covered up with a veil that hinders the knowledge of God), it is hidden [only] to those who are perishing and obscured [only] to those who are spiritually dying and veiled [only] to those who are lost.

    4 “For the god of this world has blinded the unbelievers’ minds [that they should not discern the truth], preventing them from seeing the ILLUMINATING LIGHT of the Gospel of the Glory of Christ (the Messiah), Who is the Image and Likeness of God.

    5 “For what we preach is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves [merely] as your servants (slaves) for Jesus’ sake.

    6 “For God Who said, ‘LET LIGHT SHINE OUT OF DARKNESS’, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah).

    7 “However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.”

    Peace, Love, Joy!!! Glory to God, Hallelujah!!!

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