Waiting is hard. Think of how you feel when you are waiting for the first day of school, a new job, or presents on your birthday. You’re excited, nervous, and definitely a little impatient. The anticipation you feel makes the time between “now” and “then” go by slowly. You just wish that day would come already!
This is how the people of Israel felt while they waited for Jesus. For hundreds of years, Israel waited for their coming King – a Savior who would restore wholeness and bring peace to a broken people (Isaiah 9:6). Year after year, they clung to the prophecies in Scripture about this new, better Kingdom. Generations came and went before Jesus was born. Every year, the church looks back to remember this time of waiting. We call this season Advent (which means “coming”). In this guide, you will look back and learn what it was like to wait for Jesus, and look ahead as we wait now for the new and better Kingdom established for us in heaven – a Kingdom of hope, peace, joy, and love.
Jesus as hope – Israel had hope of a coming King because of the promises given to them through prophecies. As a people, they experienced slavery in Egypt until God rescued them through Moses. As they wandered through the desert on the way to their promised land, they wandered from God many times in desperate attempts to bring about their own restoration. They had their moments of doubt, but still clung to hope that God would fulfill His promise of a Messiah – Jesus is our hope.
Jesus as peace – There are many times when waiting for something can bring about feelings of nervousness or anxiety, especially when we aren’t sure how that “thing” will turn out. Will I get the job? Will the diagnosis come back positive or negative? Will I be accepted into the school? The uniqueness of Advent is that even though we are waiting, we know what is at the end – a new, better Kingdom that restores all things to wholeness. Even though we wait in the uncertainty of the world, we can wait with peace. Peace does not fix a broken situation, but it gives us confidence in who is in control over that broken situation. Scripture tells us time and time again we do not have to worry about what is coming – Jesus is our Prince of Peace.
Jesus as joy – If you remember what it’s like to wait, you probably also remember what it was like to finally arrive at the event itself – pure joy! After anticipation, there is fulfillment. After darkness, there is light. After generations of hardship, the coming of Jesus brought joy to everyone who heard and believed. The prophecies were finally being fulfilled! Many people had lived and died waiting for these promises. Luke records the joy of many people who were “involved” in the coming of Jesus. Even though it cost them something (and even though he arrived in an unconventional way), what had been foretold was now coming to reality. Prophecies were fulfilled. Jesus, our joy.
Jesus as love – Jesus was sent because of the love of God and His desire to save us. This display of love helps us to understand how sacrificial Jesus’s love is for us and motivates us to love others in the same way. It was humble, it was shocking, it was countercultural, and it changed the world. This week we remember how Jesus coming to earth teaches us to love others, even if it costs us something. We love because Jesus is love.
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