Christmas is right around the corner - just a couple of weeks away. Stated differently, Advent - the coming of Christ to earth as the baby Jesus - is approaching quickly. As Advent approaches on the calendar, how are we approaching it?
I was reading through Matthew chapters 1 and 2 earlier this week, and was struck by a few different ways the characters in this passage approached the coming of Christ to earth. As I briefly draw attention to these different characters, prayerfully consider which describes how you are ARE currently approaching Advent. Which describes how you WANT TO BE approaching Advent?
Faith-full obedience (Matthew 1:18-25)
One of the characters we meet in Matthew 1 is a man by the name of Joseph, who we learn is engaged to be married to Mary. When Mary becomes pregnant, Joseph's inclination is to dissolve the relationship quietly. When Joseph learned WHO the baby is that is inside of Mary (the baby is Jesus, the one who will save his people from their sins -1:21), we don't read of any doubt or hesitation on Joseph's part. As soon as he wakes up, Joseph takes immediate steps of obedience (1:24). How did Joseph approach Advent - the coming of Christ to this world? He responded with faith-filled obedience, trusting in God's Word and God's promises, and acting accordingly.
Jesus' coming still asks for our obedience - an obedience that trusts in God and acts according to what God says. Are there ways you need to be approaching Advent with a faith-full obedience?
Humble, out-of-your-way worship (Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11)
We also meet a group of people simply referred to as "the Magi" - a group of people who had traveled considerable distance from another land with a clear purpose: "to worship the one born the King of the Jews" (2:2). The posture of worship required humility on the part of the Magi. And I think it's also worth noting that this decision to worship wasn't convenient - it required the Magi traveling outside of their culture for a long period of time across a significant distance.
Jesus' coming still asks for our humble and out-of-the-way worship. If we worship Jesus, that has implications for everything else in our lives. (In other words, if Jesus is ultimate, other things can't be.) Worshipping Jesus will at times pull us away from convenience, as we make the decision to go-out-of-our-way and against our comfort zones to acknowledge and proclaim the greatness of Christ.
Threatened and defensive
A third character we meet in Matthew chapters 1 and 2 is a governing authority, King Herod. The Magi visit Jerusalem, asking to see "the one who has been born king of the Jews." Herod's response to this? "...he was disturbed" (2:3). After all, the Magi weren't looking for him - they were looking for someone else, some other king of the Jews, the long-awaited promised Messiah. As the story unfolds, we learn that Herod feels threatened by the birth of this true king of the Jews, and he deceitfully enacts a plan to protect himself.
Jesus' coming still threatens would-be kings and those who would be their own ultimate authority. Jesus' coming puts us in a spot where we're forced to choose between protecting ourselves (i.e., looking to something else for our identity, hiding behind our sin, creating a world around ourselves) and submitting to His good, servant Kingship over our lives.
Caught completely unaware
The final "character" I want to point out in this passage is the mass of people who were caught entirely by surprise by what was going on in their midst. They were unaware and ignorant of this tremendously momentous hinge-moment in history. Matthew 2:3 says that "all Jerusalem" was disturbed by the report that the Magi were looking for the King of the Jews. While the Magi had seen the star and had traveled out of their way to worship the Christ, "all Jerusalem" was blind to what was going on above them (the star) and - most importantly - in a stable in their midst (the birth of Christ).
Just because so much of Jerusalem was caught unaware by the birth of the Messiah doesn't mean we need to be. We can look back at the coming of Jesus and make the decision this Christmas season to reflect intentionally on Christ's advent. We can approach this Advent season with our eyes and ears open to the beautiful truth of Immanuel ("God with us"), rather than blind and deaf to the reality of Christ's coming.
As we approach Advent, how will you head into this season in the right way?
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