The Things Concerning Himself (2020 Advent Study)
All Things Concerning Himself
Here we are again, it’s wintertime and the Christmas season is upon us. For Christians, this is one of the 2 most important seasons of the year shared only with Easter in its significance. It is in this season that we intentionally focus on the moment when Jesus, the eternal Son of God, came into the earth as a baby. In the history of the Church we have called this period leading up to Christmas Advent, which means “coming” or “arrival”. Specifically, we call the First Advent in order to distinguish it from the time when Jesus will come again at the Second Advent.
Our desire this month is to walk through the scriptures to see the way that God prepared the world for the coming of Jesus. To do this we are going to take the first 20 days and look at Old Testament passages that give us hints as to what God was doing with Jesus. Picture yourself in the shoes (or sandals) of the folks living through Old Testament history. God had made Himself known to human beings and established a covenant relationship with them where he constantly revealed his will to them in his Word.
For the ones living this out in the Old Testament they were slowly getting to figure out what God was doing as history unfolded, but for those of us who are looking back we can see the meticulous sovereignty of God. It’s like if you’ve ever watched Bob Ross’s Joy of Painting (and if you haven’t… you should). In every episode, he will start in the background and work his way to the front. At first, you don’t really know what he’s painting but then it slowly starts to take shape and you realize that he’s had this whole plan going to make it look beautiful. But then, all of a sudden, he will ruin it. He’ll have a perfect landscape and then draw a rock, or tree, or mountain right in front of it and you think, “you’ve ruined it Bob”. Then he turns that tree or rock into a perfect complement to the rest of the painting.
In addition to God’s sovereignty we are going to be overwhelmed by His grace. As we look through these people that God chose to be in the line of Jesus, we’re not going to see many rock stars. In fact, the most consistent thing about these ancestors in the faith is their failings. Doug Wilson will always talk about how God, “writes straight with crooked lines” and that is exactly what we are going to see as we follow God’s plan for our salvation. But this should also be an encouragement to us. I mean if God can use a murdering adulterer then He can use me.
You might be asking yourself, “that sounds great, but is all that stuff in the Old Testament really about Jesus?” If that’s you, great question. That’s why we are going to introduce this season by looking at one of my favorite passages in all of the Bible.
“That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:13-27)
As you can see, this passage is recounting an interaction between the risen Jesus and two of his disciples. They are in mourning over the fact that they truly believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah from the Old Testament. They believed he was going to be the one who would redeem Israel. But then Jesus died. These were good Jews, raised on the Old Testament and they did not have room in their theology for a crucified Messiah. And, to be honest, we can’t blame them. When we look at the Old Testament it is filled with predictions of a glorious, kingly Messiah. This is very appealing and easy to believe. Even in this study, these are the ones we are going to focus on. But we need to see the whole picture and that is what Jesus reminded them of. He says that they are being foolish and they are not believing _all_ that the prophets had spoken. You see that? They are believing _some_ of what the prophets were saying: the triumphant, kingly, messiah. But they weren’t believing all of what the prophets had said. Jesus then redirects them and reminds them that the Bible told of the sufferings of the Messiah and his glory.
Finally we get to verse 27 which is going to provide the trajectory for this study. Luke tells us that Jesus goes on to show them from the Old Testament how everything was pointing to him. This is so cool. This ranks up in my top 5 events in history that I would love to witness. Here we have Jesus teaching an autobiographical, Old Testament survey. How fun would that be?! It is in light of that we will be going from Genesis to Malachi looking at how God was preparing the world for the coming of Jesus. We will follow a lot of twisted paths (and twisted people) to see that God is totally gracious and sovereign over all of the affairs of men. We will see that God is a covenant-making God and a covenant-keeping God even when it looks like we are doing everything in our power to undercut his word.
We are excited that you are going through this journey with us. You can follow along either through reading the blog or listening to it read on our podcast. This could also provide you with something you could walk through with your family or small group. Our desire through this is that you will be able to stand back and marvel and God’s grace and sovereignty and focus on God in this season and that we will all join with the angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14).
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