Advent is that season of the church year in which we contemplate the divine prophecies concerning the coming of Christ into the flesh. It leads us to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, who in keeping with the prophecies was born in the fullness of time. At Christmas time we celebrate the birth of God become man. At Christmas we are reminded again how by the power of the Spirit, Jesus takes up His dwelling in our heart. For this we pray as we sing Luther’s little verse:
Ah, dearest Jesus, Holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee
There is another less well-known message of Advent. It is the message of the judgment at the end of the world. Advent messages prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord when He shall judge “the quick (living) and the dead.”
Advent is therefore the preparation for the coming of Jesus “for me.” We all rejoice at the angelic promise in Luke 2:11, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Grammatically, the “you” is a plural. The message was spen to the shepherds. But as each of us applies these comforting words to ourselves, we want to see in the “you,” a “me.” Jesus was born into the world for all people. But the personal blessing lies in knowing and believing that Jesus, the Savior, was born for me! Saving faith is very personal in that no one will be saved through the faith of another. Each redeemed soul that enters heaven, enters by grace through personal faith in Christ. That is the significance of confessing as we do in the Apostolic Creed, “I believe …” “I believe” is a statement of faith that Jesus was born “for me.” For our Christmas preparation, we can use this Advent season in no better way than by using it as a time of personal repentance and prayer. In such a heart Jesus will indeed be pleased to dwell. He will bless the heart that is so prepared. He will bring the true peace that gives real quiet to the heart in the midst of the chaos of this troubled world. Truly that one will be blessed who believes, “Jesus came for me.”
When we speak of this troubled world, we imply that we are loing for something different and better. Something different and better exists. Abraham “loed for a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God” (Hebrews 11: 10). He was one of the many patriarchs who “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (11:13). We too are strangers and pilgrims, passing through our present existence and home to that which is to come in heaven. Heaven itself, and the faith so to lo forward to it, is itself a gift of God Who will come again to judge the world.
Yes, the living God, the Triune God of Heaven, will judge the world when He comes again according to another promise of the angels, this one given to the disciples on the ascension mount. The angels reiterated what the Lord had told them in the upper room as it is recorded in John 14. Jesus said, “I will come again and receive you unto Myself: that where I am there you may be also” (V.3). Here again the “you” is plural. But within this plural “you” each Christian will read “me.” As Jesus came for “for me” at His birth, so He will come “for me” at judgment day. Thus in the Advent season we want to be applying the Savior’s promise of deliverance to heaven in a personal way. He will not leave me behind when He comes to take His children home.
Everyone who appreciates the promises of Christ, and who trusts in Him and His Word will make good use of the Advent season. However, the reality is that they who believe that Jesus has come “for me” (at His birth) and will come ” for me” (at the judgment) will view every day of their life as a day of preparation and anticipation of everlasting joy with the Lord. For the child of God every day will be a day of repentance and prayer as he awaits the advent of the Lord. Every day will be one in which the child of God seeks to live in peace with his neighbor. One’s whole life will be dictated by the love of God who manifests His love “for me.”