Published in The Calhoun Times Saturday, December 26th
How was your Christmas? I don’t know if you will get the paper on Friday or Saturday but I’m sure by now the stockings are empty and we’re all stuffed. Now we can look forward to gift return lines, a refrigerator full of leftovers and for some a long drive or flight home. Hopefully you will have a chance to relax before getting back into a routine and I sincerely hope as the holiday season wraps up you found it all worthwhile.
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” Joy to World was first published by Isaac Watts in 1719 and is based on Psalm 98. I would like to point out that the lyrics say the Lord is come and not the Lord has come. It’s true that the Lord has come. But our celebration of Christmas, particularly the observance of Advent, recognizes that Jesus came into the world, he is coming into our lives, and then he will come again as he promised. The Lord is come in much the same way that God told Moses “I Am.” Jesus has saved us, is saving us, and will save us.
The Lord has come. Christmas celebrates the birth of our Lord as a baby born in Bethlehem. That event had been prophesied by Isaiah and others and the Jews waited for it a long time. He submitted to the authority of his parents and grew up much like any other child. After his earthly ministry he ultimately hung on a cross and died, an event we will honor and celebrate in a few months on Easter Sunday. He didn’t stay dead, but he did ascend to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father.
He is coming into our lives. Near the end of his life on earth, Jesus made a rather cryptic statement to his followers. He plainly told them more than once he was going away. But he encouraged them not to be afraid and in Matthew 28:20 said “I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” In Acts 1 a large crowd watched him ascend into the clouds and we are told in Heb. 1, Eph. 2 and other texts that he is in Heaven with the Father. How could he leave and be with them? Jesus explained he must go so that the Comforter could come. On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 the Holy Spirit came. Believers become the holy temple of God when the Holy Spirit dwells within us. We sometimes say that Jesus lives in our hearts. Jesus is God, God is Jesus. God made a promise that God keeps. My advice is to not overthink it. We continue to invite Jesus into our lives as we are conformed in his image. The moment of salvation is the first step in a lifelong process.
The Lord is coming back. One reason to study the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus in the New Testament is to remind ourselves that he always keeps his promises. Because he is always faithful, we can believe that Jesus will return like he said. “I go to prepare a place for you. If I go I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” After his ascension the angels asked everyone why they stood there staring into the sky. “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” God is not slack concerning his promises, and is not a man that he should lie.
Jesus came, he is coming, and he will come again. As we share the gospel the Holy Spirit continues working to draw people to Jesus. He continues to come into the hearts and lives of his people. As we box up the tree and decorations, and put away the nativity scene figures, let us be careful to not put Jesus away with them. The days after Christmas can seem like a let down. But the birth of Jesus is only the beginning. During the incarnation God drew near humanity as never before. As the new year begins try to hold on to that thought. The Lord is come.