Advent: The King Has Come and is Coming Again
By Greg Mathias
*This article was originally published by the Center for Great Commission Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Advent is a delightfully confusing season.
We remember and celebrate the first Advent when God with us became reality in the Incarnation, while also anticipating and longing for the second Advent when King Jesus comes again in all of His glory. N.T. Wright reminds us that the “overlap of the first and the second Advents, is actually what Christianity is all about: celebrating the decisive victory of God, in Jesus Christ, over Pharaoh and the Red Sea, over sin and death—and looking for, and working for, and longing for, and praying for, the fulfillment of that decisive victory” (from The Lord and His Prayer). In this season, there is a mix of remembering, celebrating, and longing.
Advent is a tangible reminder each and every year that we live between the times of the first and second coming of the King. In this time between the times, believers are called to live on mission. The four simple truths of hope, joy, peace, and love often associated with the celebration of Advent demonstrate the missional nature of this season.
Advent fulfills hope.
God with us began on the lips of an angel and stirred the heart of a young girl.
“And the angel came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you.'” – Luke 1:28
God with us was a hopeful expectation for generations. Now, the waiting and expectation are realized.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the
one and only Son from the Father full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14
Grace and truth are now enfleshed and God with us is a new reality. Hope is fulfilled.
Advent provides peace.
The anticipation of the coming of the King heightens to an extraordinary foretaste on an ordinary night among shepherds long ago.
“Suddenly there was a multitude of heavenly host with the angel praising God and saying:
Glory to God in the highest heaven,
And peace on earth to people he favors!” – Luke 2:13-14
In the first Advent, peace became available to all peoples. This peace, though, comes at a price. Without the suffering and obedience of the Son, the full thrust of the Advent would have fallen flat in unfulfilled expectation.
“Going a little further, he fell facedown and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'” – Matthew 26:39
“It is finished…” – John 19:30
Jesus fulfilled His mission. The Son perfectly accomplished the will of His Father. Now, for those who place their hope fully in Christ and find peace in His sacrifice alone, we are given the right to be called children of God.
Advent causes joy.
While we certainly celebrate the first Advent, the coming of Jesus in the Incarnation, our deep joy is in the fact that there is a second Advent. The King is coming again!
“Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the mountains shout together for joy before the Lord,
For he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world righteously and the peoples fairly.” – Psalm 98:8-9
“Yes, I am coming soon.” – Rev 22:20
We can live in hope and expectation. The King is coming to exercise justice, mercy, and love. There will be no more despair, sin, hurt, evil, brokenness, anxiety, deceit, abuse, ugliness. All things will sing with joy. Beauty will be restored. Wholeness will be the new normal. The King will reign!
Advent is a message of love.
The Advent is the coming and expectation of God with us—of justice and mercy flooding into the world and making all things new. The King has come and is coming again. This is the Advent message. It is a message for all peoples.
“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:37-39
In this season of Advent let us celebrate with a joyful longing as we remember the first Advent while looking forward to the second Advent. The good news that God is with us and the King is coming should inspire us to live in hope, peace, joy, and love toward God and neighbor. Let these four simple Advent truths be in your heart and on your lips throughout this season.