When I was a kid I loved Christmas so much. My excitement was primarily about the gifts and it caused a sort of unhealthy anticipation for me. I remember not being able to sleep no matter how hard I tried and that was how the tradition began. On Christmas Eve, ESPN would play the same episode of SportsCenter over and over until the morning came. I would lay there in my bed and watch the same thirty minute episode over and over, thinking in my head, “Only 15 more episodes.” This both drove me crazy but also helped me somewhat simmer down the excitement.
Advent is a season of waiting. Historically, Advent is defined by the idea of coming. It is meant to be a season celebrating and awaiting the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the same way the people of God were awaiting the Messiah for years and years, so the season is meant to be filled with waiting and anticipation. Can you imagine what it must have been like for the first century Jew who was awaiting the birth of Christ and actually got to see him face to face? I think of the splendor and delight in knowing that this newborn baby was going to be the King everyone longed for. What would his reign be like? Would all their enemies finally come under the reign of this King as evil would be finally subdued. Would all the injustices of the world finally be made right through this long-awaited King?
The thing about anticipation is that we really believe that when we get what we are desiring, the satisfaction will last. But as we all know, we have had plenty of new relationships, new jobs, and new things that do not satisfy the way that they did at first. The heart of the matter is that we need someone or something to not only satisfy our longings of anticipation but we need that satisfaction to not dwindle. Jesus’ first century followers would have been drastically let down as the King they had awaited ended up on a Roman Cross, humiliated for all to see. Once again, their desires were crushed as the One in whom they placed their hope in breathed his last breath on the cross. That is where the author of Hebrews comforts the church by marrying together the two comings of Jesus. He lays them before us showing that Jesus alone can meet our anticipation and eternally satisfy our greatest desires. Hebrews 9:26b-28 says,
But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
The longing and anticipation of Jesus’ first coming seemed deflated with his death…but only for three days. After resurrecting and showing himself to weary disciples (Luke 24), it was clear that he was worth the wait. Not only had he forgiven sins once for all, but he had extinguished the fiery wrath of his Father for all sins of those that would put their faith and trust in him. Weeks after he resurrected he ascended to his rightful throne in heaven. Before departing though, he promised his beloved disciples that he would come back for them (Acts 1:6-11).
That brings us to our new Advent of sorts. We are presently waiting for our Savior. This waiting is different that it was for those whom awaited his first coming. It is different because we look back at his Incarnation, death, and resurrection and are confident that our Savior keeps his Word. Not only does he keep his Word, he has proven to be worth the anticipation and capable to handle and meet all our greatest desires. The greatest news regarding our waiting is that our future does not hold one ounce of judgment. Christ left it on that cross, in a real city, two-thousand years ago (Colossians 2:13-14). Our waiting promises an eternity with Jesus, face-to-face, in a place where all our longings and desires will be met in him. Sin and waiting will both be distant memories as we no longer wait by faith but are satisfied by sight. The Second Coming of Jesus is the worthwhile impetus of our present waiting. Let us eagerly await him this Advent season.
Wes Van Fleet is the Pastor of Discipleship and Leadership Development at Kaleo Church. He is married to Jenn and they have two little girls, Olivia and Hadley.