Advent is the anticipation and preparation for the arrival of a noble person. At Christmas it means the coming of Jesus. It is God interjecting himself on earth, taking on human form as a baby, born of a virgin, in a little town called Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago.
Why did He do it? Why did Jesus, the son God, leave his home in heaven to be with us? Why all the fuss, why all the carrying on? Why all the ruckus about a little baby, a manger, and a stable?
I wish I had an answer that would give you that “ah haw” moment when the light goes on and you say “oh, that makes perfect sense!” If I could do that for you I would, because you see, I believe in the Lord, with all my heart and in His purposes, however, my devotion to Him is not because I understand Him, it is because I don’t need to…I just need to accept Him and His love. Everything else falls into place after that.
Here is the best I can do…
The Bible says, and I believe it; that when God created men and women He did it so He could have someone to pour His love into. I want you to think about that for a moment… those of you who are parents know what it is like to have a child and pour your love into them. Well, that is precisely what God wanted.
Is it so hard for us to imagine a being like God, who can do and have all He wants, and yet would create something He wanted more than anything …someone to love…? And God’s love is unconditional. We, don’t have to do anything to get and keep it…it just is. As parents we love our children unconditionally too, don’t we…? Can you imagine anything they could ever do that would stop you from loving them?
God wants the same things with us as we do with our children.
So When God made men and women He gave them everything their hearts desired. That was in the Garden of Eden. But just as when our children get everything they want, they can become selfish with a bit of an entitlement attitude… so it was with man and woman.
What happens when our children get that way? Oh we tolerate it a moment, and then when they persist, we administer some type of punishment in order to restore them to their sweet selves. Well that is what happened with God. Men and women had everything they wanted and became a little spoiled. They acted out by taking the fruit from the tree that God, their father, had told them not to take. And just as when our children disobey, there were consequences.
Man and woman were removed from the garden.
As parents sometimes our children misbehave to the point that we too have to remove them from a situation so they can have an attitude adjustment. That is precisely what God did. He made man and woman leave the garden of their hearts desire to give them the right perspective.
Now God, because He is who He is, knows everything man and woman were going to do before He even created them. He knew there would be wonderful times of fun and joy; He also knew there would be difficult times. But, the joy of having man and woman to love was worth the pain of the difficult times.
Likewise, who of us as parents, when we had kids, thought they would be perfect? We knew there would be times when we would be disappointed and even have to punish our children, but the love and joy they bring would be worth the tradeoff.
After man and woman left the Garden of Eden, God continued to be with them and love them, but things were a little different. Instead of God providing everything for them, man and woman had to work to provide for their own needs and desires. This is very similar to our children when they are grown. They aren’t going to live in our house forever. At the age of 18 or shortly after they venture out on their own and establish their grown-up roots. We raise them to do this and to be able to provide for themselves. God has done the same with us.
(Now we know when our kids grow up and leave the nest that they are going to struggle, but we also realize this is for their good. They need the struggle in order to grow in character and strength. Within the confines of our home they can grow to a point, but at some juncture it is time they go out on their own. That doesn’t mean we aren’t still actively involved in their lives, but they are now making their own decisions. This is how God is with us. We are making our own decisions, we are leading, we are working, we are taking care of the world, and God is there like a parent helping us along the way.)
But God’s original plan for man and women, which was to care for their every need and desire – never changed. He still wanted to one day restore us to the beautiful state we were in, in the Garden of Eden.
But men and women didn’t change. Like a naughty child who continues in their rebellious attitude, so did man and woman continue to be self-absorbed. God knew the punishment required, due to the consequences of man and women’s actions, was more than man and women could take. Even though they were the ones who were on the naughty list, God knew He would one day take their punishment for them.
And that is what He did when 33 years after His birth, he died on the cross. God’s plan all along was to eventually take the punishment we deserve so we wouldn’t have to. He realized we could not endure it, nor did He want us to endure it. He didn’t want us to get what we had coming because He loves us. So Jesus was punished in our place.
God also knew that if He took the punishment, not only would He be able to endure it, but He would rise again, and not only that but He, unlike children, would not be tempted to do any of the bad things we do. And, when He refrained, no more punishment would be needed, because man and women would be covered with forgiveness – because…He had already paid the price, He took the punishment in our place.
And that is why Advent is so important, because you see for the last 24 days we have been getting ready for the Noble One’s birth who would take the sins of the world onto Himself.
Oh how wonderful the day when as a child I had done something wrong and was in big trouble, that I did not get what I deserved. My mom’s classic line was “Wait until your father comes home!” I knew what that meant… big punishment. But on occasion, when dad came home…instead of disciplining me, he acknowledged what I had done and then forgave me. No spanking? No time-out? WONDERFUL!! Do you think I received his “gift” of forgiveness? Or do you think I chose the alternative? Of course not…I chose to be forgiven. And then you know what happened? It made me want to go on and be better.
Today as we begin gathering with our families and friends to celebrate Christmas on the Eve of Christ’s birth, I want to remember that the advent of Jesus is all part in the divine plan of a God whose only desire is to love us. He has taken care of everything…all I need to do is accept His love… and take His gift of forgiveness. It is the reason for the season!
‘Hark the herald angels sing…glory to the new born king. Peace on earth and mercy mild…God and “sinners” reconciled.’