Christmas is just days away; the season of expectant waiting is coming to an end for this year. The culmination of Advent, the Incarnation of God into human form, bursts forth in songs of wonder, adoration, and joy. The first coming of Jesus we celebrate with gifts, food, and family visits that include a trip to a church service. And this is good.
It is a wondrous thing to know the One who reconciles sinners to the Father through His life, His substitutionary atoning sacrifice, and His glory. The knowledge of Jesus comes through the same Spirit given to the apostles. In our finite and limited minds, we see bits and pieces of His radiance but we cannot understand the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God yet (Romans 11; 1 Corinthians 3:17). The first coming, the Incarnation, contains all we need for salvation and sanctification, but our glorification is yet to be. As long as we are bound to our earthly and broken selves, we can only look expectantly to the day where we will know Jesus, face-to-face (1 Corinthians 13:12). As we look, we prepare for that day by growing in grace and knowledge of Jesus (2 Peter 3:18). We grow in knowledge by studying and meditating on His Word (2 Peter 1:3; Colossians 2; 1 John 2) . We grow in grace by loving the way Jesus loves: sacrificially, wholly, and humbly.
We are still waiting for the final coming of the Lord in glory and might and power. That day is still ahead, predicted by the prophets of the first covenant and affirmed by the apostles (Isaiah 11; Isaiah 40; Habakkuk 2; 2 Peter 3; 1 Thessalonians 5). It is still Advent.
The first appearance of Messiah surprised nearly everyone. A helpless baby, born into poverty, growing the same way all children do. He was wise beyond his years, but otherwise so ordinary that the people who knew him in his hometown scoffed at the notion of his miracles (Matthew 13:53-58). The second coming of Messiah, however, will split the skies and every living human will fall at His feet (Matthew 24:29-31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 1:7).
He is coming. We still wait. This broken world groans in expectation. We bow under the weight of evil around us, seeing despair, injustice, and destruction that seem to become more powerful each day. We see these things, but we lift our eyes amid affliction, walking by faith, not sight (1 Corinthians 5). We seek to share our hope as we serve and love those who hurt. We strive for reconciliation between people as a picture of how God wants them to be reconciled to Him, so at the time of Messiah’s return, they, too, will rejoice (2 Peter 3:9).
He is coming. We wait in confident expectation, knowing that His patience will allow all who will be reconciled to seek His salvation. And then, at last, “the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds the meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Until then, it is still Advent.