The word advent means “coming”. Christmas is a time when we celebrate the coming of Christ into the world, and the reason for his coming – to seek and save the lost. Similarly, Advent is a season for remembering that God is on a mission. He is sending, pursuing, searching, and saving. Two times in 1 John 3:1-10 we are told why Christmas happened – Christ came into the world to take away sin. The greatest glory that the world would ever see is when the Son of Man (Jesus’ favourite designation for himself) was lifted up on a cross to die for sinners, destroying sin.
The story of the Son of God coming into the world is so much more than historical fact. It is a message of hope sent by God to single parents, anxious teenagers, struggling preachers, depressed husbands, disabled neighbours, us. God’s message of hope this Advent is that since the Son of God lived, died, rose victorious, and is coming again, that what is bad can be changed and what is good need not be lost.
Christmas is a celebration of John 3:16, that God so loved. The “so” here doesn’t refer to the amount of love God has (as though trying to communicate quantity), but rather the way in which he loved. How did God show his love? He gave. He gave his most precious treasure – his only begotten Son, and he gave him to die. We meditate on his love this Advent; that the Creator became like his beloved creation in order to bring us back to himself. As we approach the joy of Christmas, we rejoice that through the coming of the Son of Man we have received this reconciliation.
We have all sinned against God. We all need a Saviour. The angel said to Joseph “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). But there’s more; the miracle is that we’re taken from the position of being a sinner to not simply being free, but declared righteous! We share in the status and relationship of Jesus Christ himself. Reconciled to God. Without any need to be afraid any more, we’re given his perfect peace. That’s worth celebrating.
So this Advent, my prayer is that you would remember the life, hope, and peace that the coming of the Son of Man secured for you. That you would live in that gift each and every day as you enjoy being free from hurt, guilt or anxiety that can paralyse or make us feel hopeless. Believe the promises of God that have been fulfilled in the coming of his Son, and also allow your eyes to be opened to the story of how the vertical advent of God through the mission of Jesus becomes the horizontal advent of Jesus through the mission of the church to the world. In us.