Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Advent Midweek 1

Texts - Isaiah 9:1-8, Acts 13:32-39, John 12:27-36

In the Name of Christ Jesus, our Advent King +
This advent season, our focus will be upon the idea of hope. When we talk about hope as Christians, we do not use the term as the world uses the term. When the world uses the word “hope”, it uses it to speak of something that might happen, but might not. I hope OU wins it's bowl game, but this year, I'm not so sure. However, when we are in the Church, the way in which we use the word “hope” is different. Our hope in the Church is a sure and confident hope – something that we know will come, something that we know will be - because God has said so, because God Himself has done it. Our Hope is our Faith – the two are one and the same.

Advent is the season where we consider what our Hope as Christians actually is, we see our hopes placed and fulfilled in Christ Jesus, for He is the true source of all our hope. However, while we in the New Testament Church see Jesus as the source of our hope, for many folks in Jesus' day, He was a disappointment. Their hopes had become skewed, their hopes had slid off – they heard part of the Word but didn't think things through, and so they slid off into error – and thus, when Jesus came, He was disappointing. Tonight, we will consider the fact that Jesus is the true Hope for the Throne of David, over and above the low, misguided expectations people had.

Now, as we live in America and have no king, we don't quite understand the way the people of Jesus' day thought about the Throne of David. Today, we say, “No king – fantastic, let's go vote on something.” But for the folk of Jesus' day, not having a true king of your own meant that you were a conquered people, that you were defeated and subjugated to another. For them, the idea of having someone sit upon the throne of David as King meant basically what we think of when we think of freedom – no other country bossing them around, a peaceful existence, a just government, good economic growth – all the things we hope for in this world. And they had reason to think this would come – Isaiah had said, “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.” The Messiah would come, and He would make the throne of David something for the people of Israel to be proud of.

However, they miss the point. They kept thinking in earthly terms, they kept thinking in terms of a line of kings, one after another – or maybe even someone who would live hundreds of years like the patriarchs of old. But that isn't what Isaiah points to – it points to One King, and His government and rule will increase and will not end – we aren't just talking about the way things ran in some idealized past, this isn't misguided dreaming about some golden age – but it is a description of reality – that the Messiah will bring everlasting peace and everlasting righteousness. This is what Paul points out when he preaches in Acts 13 – the kings of old died and remained in their tomb – they served for only a time, but Christ Jesus has risen from the dead and He lives and reigns to all eternity.

When Christ comes, He preaches to His own death and resurrection. He speaks to how He will suffer and die and rise again in order to defeat sin, to make open the path to heaven and to ensure His eternal reign. And the people really dislike this idea - “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?" They understood what Jesus was saying when He said that He would be lifted up – that was a way of speaking about crucifixion – a kind of death that was public and shameful and horrid. How does death come into our dreams of an earthly kingdom? If your king gets put to death, that doesn't mean good things for your kingdom. In fact, that pretty much means that your kingdom is done for.

But Christ's kingdom isn't meant to be one just of this world, it isn't meant to be one simply for the Jewish people – no, the Throne of David will be much bigger than that – it will be the Throne of Heaven itself – it will be the Throne before which not merely the Jewish people but all the people of the world will fall down and worship for all eternity. This is the true hope for the Throne of David, this is the hope which we are part of. The Throne of David is a truly eternal Throne – one which outlasts this world which will pass away – it will be the Throne around which we are gathered. Do you see how God's plans are so much more and higher that what people expect – we might expect a good life now, comfort while we grow old and die – yet Christ says, “I will call you forth from the grave and give you eternal life and have you be by my side in heaven forever before My throne.”

This is what our Lord accomplishes when He comes. Our Lord comes not to simply take up an earthly throne, not just to be a worldly ruler – but rather, to defeat Satan, the ruler of this world. This is what He does when He goes to the cross. Our Lord comes to the manager precisely so that He might go to the Cross, He is born as a Man so that He might win for us men our salvation by His innocent suffering and death. And then, He rises – and as a Living Man, never to die again, He ascends and, as we confess, He is seated at the right hand of God the Father. He is seated upon the everlasting Throne of David, where He is our God right now, from whence He gives us all the blessings we have in this life, and from whence He shall come again at the last day to deliver us from all wickedness and call us to His eternal and perfected Kingdom.

Dear friends in Christ, we too have hope in Christ, hope that is centered around the everlasting Throne of David. And we have learned from our Lord what this means – that He is our Savior and our life, and that we shall have peace and security and blessing far surpassing anything we could think of in this life – all because He came to earth and suffered and rose. This is our Hope to which we cling. In the Name of Christ Jesus, our Advent King +

No comments: