Week 2 of Advent: Hope
Our Hope for His Second Coming
People of the Old Testament held hope in God fulfilling His promise to send the Messiah. Since Jesus ascended into heaven following His resurrection, Christians have been hoping and looking for Him to come again. Paul wrote in Hebrews 9:28, “So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Yes, Christian eagerly await the time that He will come again, but this time, not as a baby in a manager, but as Victor and King. We are now waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of Christ in all his glory. Paul, in writing to Titus, wrote these words:
Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:13)
Christ as already appeared as suffering servant
When Jesus came as a baby in a manger, He came as a suffering servant. In Isaiah 53, the prophet wrote: “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.“ In verse 4 of Isaiah 53, we find that Jesus bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was smitten by God as payment for our sins. It doesn’t make for a warm, fuzzy Hallmark movie, but it is a story of God’s love, mercy and grace to each one of us. Because Jesus suffered, we have hope.
When Grace appeared
In Titus 2:11, Paul wrote that the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people. So if grace “appeared,” then it must be an actual thing that is visible and tangible. Something we can see and touch. When grace “appeared,” it appeared as a baby boy, born to a young, virgin girl who laid him in a manger. This grace that “appeared” lived, breathed, walked, talked, performed miracles, died in our place, and then rose again.
Jesus is not a mythical story like those of Santa and flying reindeers. Grace is Jesus in the flesh who brought hope to each one of us. If you were to say, “draw me a picture of the grace of God,” then I would draw you a picture of Jesus. So when we gaze upon the nativity that decorates our homes and you see the baby in a manger, may it remind us that grace came in the flesh.
Where would we be without Jesus, the grace of God, appearing? Without the son of God in flesh, then nothing appeared. Nothing changes. Godlessness reigns. We would only be concerned about ourselves. We would only be bound by laws and regulations, were it not for grace. Then there would only be death. No hope. All guilt. But a baby changes everything and with his birth, hope appeared. Grace appeared. Salvation appeared.
Christ will come again
Christ’s first coming gave us hope for salvation from our sins. It gives us hope that by His grace we are saved from the penalty of sin, which is death. But the Bible also tells us that we have blessed hope that we are waiting for now. Titus 2:13 identifies the “blessed hope” as the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ, our great God and Savior. In that moment the trials of life will be over. Romans 8:18 tells us that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the the glory that will be revealed in us.”
The blessed hope is a certain hope
In these weeks leading up to Christmas, children all over the world are “hoping” to get the gifts on their Christmas list. Some are hoping just to get something. But they don’t have any certainty in that hope. However, the hope we have in Christ, our blessed hope, is assured. It’s a done deal. We know it will happen and that hope can’t be taken away from us.
It was approximately 4000 years from the first sin to the birth of Christ. But the Messiah came, just as God promised. It’s been approximately 2000 years since his death and we have been waiting for the blessed hope of His return. In John 14:3, Jesus said he would return. In Acts 1:11, the angels told the disciples he would return. And in the New Testament letters, the apostles wrote of his return. We don’t know when it will happen. Jesus even said he did not know the hour of his return, but that it would be like a thief in the night, in a twinkling of an eye and all the Christian in the world will be gone from this world (1 Corinthians 15:52).
His return could be any moment.
Jesus could come back at any time for His church, which includes all believers in Christ from the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 onward. This event is called the rapture. 1 Thessalonian 4:13-18 tells us about this even. It will be announced by the voice of the archangel and God’s trumpet call. The bodies of those who have died will be raised to be joined with their souls, and then the bodies of those believers still living on earth will be changed into a body like the Lord’s resurrection body. The believers raised from the dead and the believers living at Christ’s return will meet the Lord in the air and be taken to heaven. This will happen in the twinkling of an eye.
Looking for our Blessed Hope
Jesus’ imminent return should motivate the believer to live godly in an ungodly world. The word looking in Titus 2:13 is the key for that to happen. To be “looking” means that we live each day in continual anticipation and expectancy, with the conviction that Jesus could come at any time. That hope becomes a transforming reality in this life, resulting in God being glorified through us (1 Corinthians 10:31). The blessed hope brings us joy and cheers us through the trials of this world. It should also cause us to stop and evaluate our thinking, words, and actions.
Remembering our Blessed Hope
This Christmas, as we celebrate the Hope that Jesus brought through His birth, let us also pause to look expectantly for the blessed hope of his second coming. May it cause us to renew our minds, refocus our priorities, and cause us to love Him with all our heart. Yes, a baby changed everything for us – He gave us hope.
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