“The Second Advent Will Be Greater than the First”
The Advent of Jesus is one of the most celebrated seasons in the Church’s liturgical calendar. Advent literally means “the coming” or “the arrival.” Christians around the world celebrate Advent in the weeks leading up to Christmas day in order to inwardly and outwardly reflect on the significance of the incarnation of God the Son and the implications in our lives. Our reflections on the Advent are two-fold. First, we put ourselves in the position of mankind prior to the coming of Jesus. At the close of the Old Testament, we see misery and suffering. In the previous years, God judged Israel and Judah for their persistent and unrepentant sin. He used the nation of Assyria to destroy Israel and the nation of Babylon to destroy Judah. These events are known as the deportations because Assyria and Babylon forced the survivors to leave their homeland and placed people from other nations in Israel and Judah. They displaced the people they conquered in order to disseminate the nations and destroy any chance of unified rebellion. God providentially used Persia to defeat the Babylonians and thus preserve the Jews. Under Persian rule, the Jews were allowed to go back into their homeland to rebuild the temple and walls of Jerusalem. The surviving Jews were only a small fraction of the formerly great nation of Israel. The Jews were in desperate need of the promised Messiah as was the rest of the world. However, it was not yet God’s time to send him. God allowed the nation to struggle through four hundred years of oppression and defeat and stayed silent as he prepared the way for the Messiah to come. When we reflect on this time we remember the depths of depravity and the severe consequences of our sin. We remember how hopeless we are and how much we desperately need a Savior. Unlike the people of that time, we have to privilege of seeing the first Advent from this side of the cross. We reflect on the coming of Jesus with repentant and contrite hearts as well has celebration and excitement. We look back to the coming of Christ knowing that he completed everything he came to do. He defeated the curse of sin that was over us and took on the wrath of God in our place as he ushered in the Kingdom of God. Now we stand in another period of anticipation. We look back knowing that Jesus came and completed all the work necessary for our salvation and communion with God. We look ahead knowing Jesus will come again and his work will be fulfilled. He is coming back for us to bring us into the presence of God where we will experience perfect and untainted joy as we marvel at the greatness of God. We will be restored into the communion with the Trinity that we were created for. We will experience the immeasurable greatness of his love and grace without the lens of corrupted hearts. During this time, we reflect on the first Advent of Jesus, but every day we anticipate and long for the second Advent. The second Advent will be far greater than the first! Come Lord Jesus.