December 10, 2023
Entering the advent season brings an expectation of hope as our hearts are renewed by the thoughts of the incarnation, God manifest in the flesh, as Jesus Christ came to this world to take away our sins.
1 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) — 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
One of the songs frequently sung in the advent season is O Little Town of Bethlehem. Notice how the first verse focuses on hope in the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ:
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight
This hope is not a mere wish as we wish someone a merry Christmas, rather an expectation that is founded upon truth. In this case, the foundation of hope is the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 1:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Those who followed the Old Testament prophesies looked in expectation for the arrival of Messiah. This hope was based upon God’s word and the anticipation of the fulfillment of His word.
Isaiah 9:6–7 (ESV) — 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 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 zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Since the Lord Jesus Christ has come into the world as prophesied, He has died for our sins on the cross as prophesied, and He is risen from the dead. Victory over our sin, Satan, and death itself is what gives us life in the new birth as we come to Christ, or as described in 1st Peter that we are raised to a “living hope.”
1 Peter 1:3–5 (ESV) — 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Notice how we have hope or expectation based upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His resurrection. It’s not an unfounded or unstable wish. This hope is anchored in Christ, which is the anchor for our souls.
Hebrews 6:17–20 (ESV) — 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
This hope is far above any wish or false expectation, it is something that lives within us, giving us a reason to live in the midst of a troubled world.
Colossians 1:26–27 (ESV) — 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Today we have hope or expectation that is founded upon Him and in Him as we anticipate His return.
Titus 2:13 (ESV) — 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
This hope that a Christian has is all based upon the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ in His incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension, intercession, the continual work within us by His spirit, and His return to gather us to Himself. The conclusion of this hope is salvation or deliverance from the despair of the hopelessness in the world today.
Romans 8:24–25 (ESV) — 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
As you hear or sing O Little Town of Bethlehem, take note of the words, particularly how the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Bethlehem, particularly in the person who was born in Bethlehem, Jesus Christ the Lord. He is both the reason for hope, and He is our hope. As you celebrate that fact and enjoy the season of the celebration of the incarnation, remember the instruction to those who have been blessed with hope:
1 John 3:1–3 (ESV) — 1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
Bob Brubaker, Pastor