He Was Coming Into the World – Advent 2019
Sunday 2 – His own people rejected him
“The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. […] He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.” (1)
To his own people...
Does this phrase refer to Jesus’ family? His community? The people of Israel?...
Well... his brothers didn’t believe in him. (2) The people of Nazareth, where he grew up, wanted to push him over a cliff because he wasn’t doing as many miracles there as he was elsewhere. (3) And the leaders of the people of Israel managed to convince the Romans to kill him on a cross. (4) Talk about being rejected, indeed!
But what’s even more tragic is that there is something premeditated in all of that, in the coming of Jesus to his own as well as in his rejection by them.
God Made For Himself a People Out of One Man
“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.’” (5)
Around 2000 years before the coming of Jesus, God chose a man, Abram the Chaldean, and from him alone he made for himself a whole people, the Jews, with the primary goal of generating the Messiah.
“They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned. And he is God, the one who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.” (6)
That’s some project! And the Israelites, they have quite a history, and so many privileges!
Abraham didn’t see the complete fulfilment of the promises God gave him. He just “saw it all from a distance and welcomed it” by faith. (7) But he rejoiced as he looked forward to see Jesus. (8)
The Coming of the Messiah Was Foretold and Awaited For
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.”
“All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).”
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” (9)
The prophecies were numerous throughout the centuries. The Jews knew them. And they were waiting for that liberating King who would restore all things.
And “when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law.” (10)
But When He Came, the Messiah Was Rejected
Jesus was rejected. Why?
If his coming was planned and prepared, and if they were waiting for him for so long, why then did they reject him?
Probably because the one who came was not the one they were expecting.
When old Simeon took baby Jesus in his arms, in the Temple, he said:
“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
Then, he added:
“This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.”
Destined to cause many to fall... Many will oppose him...
The Jews were waiting for a liberator who would restore the Kingdom of Israel before the nations, and who would tell them how good they were for keeping the Law through the centuries. They received a Messiah who revealed the thoughts of their hearts, with their pride and their idols.
God wanted to save their souls by sending them Jesus. Most people didn’t understand. They rejected him.
As for us, you and me, what Jesus do we celebrate at Christmas time?
When we sing What Child Is This and O Holy Night, do we really welcome him as God, as Redeemer, as Saviour, according to what these songs say? Still today, many will oppose him, and he will reveal the deepest thoughts of the heart...
As for his second coming, what Jesus will we welcome: the triumphant King, or the condemning Judge?
On this second Sunday of Advent 2019,
may the Holy Spirit reveal the thoughts of our hearts
may he humble us,
and help us to recognize Jesus for who he really is:
the Son of God,
And may we wait for his return
in peace and joy.
Sincerely in Jesus,
Eleazar, the Bellicose Monk
All Bible excerpts are from The Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013).
(1) The Gospel according to the apostle John, chapter 1, verses 9 and 11.
(2) See the Gospel according to the apostle John, chapter 7, verses 1 to 8.
(3) See the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 4, verses 16 to 30.
(4) See the Gospel according to the apostle John, chapter 18, verse 33 to chapter 19, verse 16.
(5) The Book of Genesis, chapter 12, verses 1 to 3.
(6) The Letter from the apostle Paul to the Romans, chapter 9, verses 4 and 5.
(7) See the Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 11, verses 12 and 13.
(8) See the Gospel according to the apostle John, chapter 8, verse 56.
(9) Respectively, the Book of the prophet Micah, chapter 5, verse 2; the Book of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 7, verse 14; and chapter 9, verses 6 and 7.
(10) The Letter from the apostle Paul to the Galatians, chapter 4, verse 4 and first part of verse 5.
(11) The Gospel according to Luke, chapter 2, verses 29 to 32, then verses 34 and first part of 35.