After celebrating Christmas, we’re on the other side of Advent, and you really won’t hear the word again until some really churchy person says something about the church calendar next year. But, to me, there are really three advents that are important for us all throughout the year: the advent of the weekend, the advent of the pizza you got delivered, and the ad- … I’m just kidding.
I’m talking about the incarnation, the formation of Christ in you, and the return of Jesus. All three are the arrival of Christ in different ways that are able to provoke faith and hope in us, no matter what season it is.
The incarnation is what we just celebrated. Jesus was born. C.S. Lewis described how important that was to us:
“The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation… Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this… It was the central event in the history of the Earth — the very thing that the whole story has been about… He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still… [to] the womb… down to the very roots and sea-bed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him.”
The Old Testament is riddled with the promises of a messiah, even stretching all the way back to Genesis, right after the fall. One of my friends says it this way: “God didn’t even let the sun go down before promising to put everything back in order.”
And on Christmas, we celebrate God fulfilling the promises he made in the Old Testament to send someone to free us from slavery to Satan, sin, and death, and give us life, adopting us, and making us birthright citizens of the kingdom of his Son. That’s the advent of Christ on earth.
But the New Testament explains the journey of sanctification where we begin to look more and more like Christ each and every day.
It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!
— Galatians 4:18-19
Until Christ is formed in you. Christianity isn’t one small moment followed by a life waiting to die and go to heaven. Christianity is the believer getting wrapped up in the story of Jesus. Jesus pays for a life that you wouldn’t have otherwise, and then walks with you in that life through every feeling you feel and every thought you have, seeing you through the good times and the bad, making you more like himself every day. Jesus bought you with his blood and intends to make you like himself. And in the words of Charles Spurgeon, Jesus will have what he paid for.
The last advent is when Jesus comes back.
When Jesus comes back, his kingdom will come in fullness. There are evidences of the kingdom now. Jesus tells us to pray for it. There is progress. But when Jesus returns, the kingdom will come completely, and everything that is wrong will be made right.
And we get to look forward to that with assurance.
The first two advents tell us that we can trust God. The fact that Jesus came, born a baby to a virgin mother in Bethlehem is evidence that God will do what he says he will do. The fact that believers all over the world are growing in spiritual maturity, in sanctification, is evidence that Jesus will do what he says he will do. And Scripture, the trustworthy Word of God, says he will do what he says he will do.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
— Philippians 1:6
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:24
Even at our most anxious, our most fearful, there is still more to look forward to than there is to dread. No matter what is happening in life or what may ever happen in life, the believer always has more to look forward to than to fear. Jesus has made you promises, and Jesus will be faithful to those promises, for your good and for his glory.
There is nothing surer than the promises of Jesus. He was faithful to you before you ever thought to be faithful to anything other than what you wanted for yourself. And he will be faithful to you now.