Daily Archives: November 21, 2021

The Season of Advent

Advent is an early New Year. It is the beginning of a new liturgical year for those churches that follow the lectionary readings. A new cycle of scriptural readings begins. This time the Gospel readings come from the Gospel of Matthew, carried throughout the Year A cycle of readings. (See Liturgical Calendar.)

There are four Sundays in Advent which tell of the coming of Jesus. At first the emphasis is on his second coming and end-times, but then the emphasis shifts to the first coming. They offer a powerful progression of how Jesus fulfills the law and the prophets of the Old Covenant while establishing the New Covenant through the Incarnation of God.

Advent is a season of expectation. It is a season of hope. It is an opportunity put away the old and put on the new. It is a time of preparation for the Bride of Christ to prepare for the millennial reign of Jesus.

Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.  (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I challenged a friend in ministry to preach on the lectionary readings of Advent. He had never done so. He found himself preaching on subjects he had never preached on before, such as the second coming of Jesus and the end-times. Later he told me that Advent had caused him to grow in the faith. That is the beauty of the lectionary in general and especially the beauty of the Season of Advent.

We do not want to rush into Christmas prematurely. Rather, we need to prepare spiritually for a joyous Christmas. Christmas is so over-commercialized in this nation. It seems to be more a pagan celebration than a religious one, rivaled by only by Halloween.

Let us use Advent to recommit ourselves to Christ as Savior and Lord. And let us explore new insights and meanings that wash over us as we prepare for the coming of the Christ child.

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Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King

Track 1: My Kingdom Is Not from this World

2 Samuel 23:1-7
Psalm 132:1-13 (14-19)
Revelation 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37

Today we celebrate “Christ the King.”” He is King of King and Lord of Lords. Do we see Jesus as our King and Lord? What does that mean?

During the earthly ministry of Jesus there was great misunderstanding about his kingship, however. In today’s Gospel reading we are given a glimpse of this misunderstanding:

Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”   (John 18:33-37)

We can understand why Pilate was confused about Jesus’ kingship. He was not a Jew. But as we read John’s Gospel we begin to see that Pilates was actually attempting to understand what Jesus was saying. In some ways, he was more inquisitive than the Jewish authorities. They had rejected Jesus as their king. He did not fit their preconceives expectation.

In their religious minds, they believed that they fully understood Judaism. They did not ned any teaching from Jesus. Their concern was to rid themselves of Roman rule.

In his testimony before Pilate, Jesus talked about two kingdoms – two very different kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. Which one is real?

Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?”   (John  18:38) That is the question. Which kingdom is real? There is so much untruth in the world today. There is so much untruthful being reported. But God’s Word is truth.

From the Gospel of Luke:

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among y0u.”   (Luke 17:20-21)

Jesus’ answer was that the kingdom of God was not coming in the manner the Pharisees were expecting. There would be no great and magnificent leader who staked out a geographical claim and routed the Romans; rather, the kingdom would come silently and unseen, much as leaven works in a batch of dough. In fact, Jesus said, the kingdom had already begun, right under the Pharisees’ noses. God was ruling in the hearts of some people, and the King Himself was standing among them, although the Pharisees were oblivious to that fact.

Jesus was telling the Pharisees that He brought the kingdom of God to earth. His presence in their midst gave them a taste of the kingdom life, as attested by the miracles that Jesus performed. Jesus was inaugurating the kingdom as He changed the hearts of men, one at a time.

For the time being, Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. One day, however, the it will be manifest on the earth, and Jesus Christ will rule a physical kingdom from David’s throne with Jerusalem as His capital – his millennial reign.

The Apostle wrote:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.   (Revelation 1:4-8)

Have we been freed from our sins by his blood? That is the only requirement for entering the kingdom of God. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day to give praise and thanksgiving to our King.

 

Track 2: Suggestion

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Psalm 93
Revelation 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37

Perhaps we could compare the prophecies of Daniel and John, the Revelator. First from Daniel:

As I watched,

thrones were set in place,
and an Ancient One took his throne,

his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;

his throne was fiery flames,
and its wheels were burning fire.

A stream of fire issued
and flowed out from his presence.

A thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.

The court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.   (Daniel 7:9-10)

And from Revelation:

To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,

even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.

So it is to be. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.  (Revelation 1:4-8)

How does it compare with the two Apocalyptic visions?  Daniel writes about a heavenly court which sits in judgement. In Revelation, we read:

even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.

There will be an accounting of the lives of every person, before an awesome God. For Christians, that accounting was done on the cross. That is our only hope to stand before God with Jesus as our intercessor.

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