The Hope of Christ
First Advent talk Nov 30/2014 – given at my home church
Laurel Hildebrandt, MTSC, CCC
“Isaiah 9:1-7 “Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulan and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.
You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder.
For you will break the yoke of slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!”.
I’ve been on the theme of redemption lately in my life and for the lives of others. I work in the trenches with people whose lives have been shaken for one reason or another, or whose lives have almost been destroyed so I am in the business of hope – working with those who have lost hope and offering them another chance to hope, even if it means taking my hope for just a bit until they can see some light at the end of their dark, lonely tunnel.
Hope is representative of the first advent as we wait for Christ, our Savior, to return to us a second time. As Isaiah says, we have God’s “passionate commitment” on that promise that He will make all things right and new! Back in the time when Jesus was born the people longed for their long awaited Savior to come and rescue them from the oppression of the Roman rulers. For those who believed that Jesus came down to earth as a baby it may have been a shock that He wasn’t going to storm the earth with war on the unjust and take it back by force. That isn’t who God is. God is a God of love and second chances. They saw a baby. For those who received this as from God, they received hope. Christ Jesus is hope.
Hebrews 11 says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” It is by faith that we know that Jesus Christ is our only hope, our only redemption. Jesus’ first coming was only the first part of the plan.
The plan was simple, yet the message was and seems to still be hard to receive. Jesus said, “Believe in me. Receive me and you will have eternal life.”
What people don’t seem to understand is that there are no strings attached the to the free gift of salvation! John 1 states that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
The Word was with God in the original Greek language is saying that Jesus was there, face to face, with God, helping God create the world! Jesus has been a part of God’s plan since the beginning of time. Jesus knew that His part in saving us wayward children was to sacrifice – not just a small sacrifice – to sacrifice His all for us. Hope is representative of the complete and total redemption that is offered to all of us through Jesus Christ, our Saviour!
What does this mean? This means that when Jesus, who is one with God and He is God’s Son and is also the Creator of the world – when this Jesus died on the cross He literally took our place for every sin that we have ever committed or will commit AND He did that for all humankind past, present and future!! Our hope lies in the offer of redemption!
Phil 3:20-21 says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
Phil 3 is a passage almost too wonderful to comprehend! My excitement comes because of the hope of the entire Scripture presented and in a small way summed up in Phil 3. You see, we have hope because of Jesus! We have hope because of Jesus death on the cross, Him descending into Hades and conquering Satan, taking back the keys to life and death, rising to life again, thus offering us hope for not just today – but for eternity – for forever!!!
If we believe and receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior it means that we are already citizens of heaven. This gives us hope because Jesus keeps taking our place in every sin that we have done, and every sin that has been done to us. If we let Him do that, then He bears the consequences of that sin on Himself. He is big enough for this – yet it helps me to choose to live in Christ more because living in Him is where our joy, strength and our hope comes from.
We have HOPE because we are already citizens of heaven.
WE have HOPE because we are one with Jesus Christ. He has decided that with the new covenant comes a new temple – and we are the temple that the Holy Spirit resides in.
WE have confident HOPE because all that counts is rightness with God – not worldly wealth and toys, not how many friends we have procured (although we do have friends when we love with the love of God) – rightness with God and one in Christ. He is in me and I am in Him. It is a relationship wherein as I get more on fire for God you see less of me and more of Him.
WE have HOPE because if Christ Jesus and I are one then it makes this race that we run do-able – for apart from Christ we cannot press on toward the goal and the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus as Phil 3:12-14 talks about.
As we remember the birth of Christ and prepare to celebrate His coming into our world for the first time, let’s also remember the hope that Christ brought into the world then. The fulfillment of His promises and prophecies throughout Scripture are happening everyday. The countdown to His second coming began immediately after His first coming. Let’s ride that hope and give it to others because it is through Christ Jesus that we are healed. His redemption, His taking our place in pain and suffering is already conquered. Take the hope that Jesus offers! Take the redemption that He offers! Let Jesus take your place and dance with you as He heals your pain. He’s that big and that powerful and that loving.
As we light the first advent candle let’s wait with an eager anticipation of celebrating the first coming of Jesus and eagerly anticipating the celebration of the Lord making all things right and good with His second coming.
Prayer: “Father God, thank you for sending Jesus to us to accomplish for us something that we could never have done on our own – giving us hope for a relationship with You, bridging that gap with His very life. Father, your kindness is beyond what we could ever hope or imagine, and you have proven over and over that your promises endure and come to pass. As we celebrate the advent season enable us to be caught up with an all-encompassing love for you so that you can love others through us. We love you Lord. Amen.”