This past Sunday we started a new sermon series called “Advent” as we entered the Christmas season. The word advent comes from the Latin word Adventus, which is translated from the Greek word parousia which is used in the New Testament for the second coming of Jesus. The word Advent means to “wait.” Now for most in the church world, there are two advents, the birth of Christ which the people waited for thousands of years for and the one that we will be celebrating in just a few weeks, and the second coming of Jesus which the church is waiting for now. Now though these are the two coming of Jesus that we talk about when we talk about advent. In the early 1100’s there was a French monk by the name of Bernard of Clairvaux that began to preach that the advent should be about the three comings of Jesus. The birth of Jesus and the second coming should be a part of advent but also should the coming of Jesus into the heart of individuals. Bernard believed that the middle advent, which was the salvation that came to individuals, was the road that gets us from the first advent to the last advent.
Now whether you want to agree with Bernard that the coming of Jesus to individuals is to be a part of the advent celebration or not matters very little, the power of Advent is the hope that it brings with it. You see every time that Jesus comes there is hope that comes along with Him. The advent is about waiting and anticipating the hope that comes when Jesus steps onto the scene. In Isaiah 9 we find the Messianic message of “Royal Hope.” The Israelites were in the beginning stages of being conquered and overtaken by their enemies because of their rebellion against Jehovah. Already their enemy had invaded and taken the southern part of the Galilean valley. They were living in a time of despair, and the presence of God seemed nowhere to be found. In this middle of this Isaiah preaches a message of Hope to the people. Telling them that a bright light is coming and that the people would see it as it shined in the darkness. Years later the Apostle John would record in the first chapter of his gospel, that the light did come and shine in the darkness and that the same “Word became flesh and dwelled among them.” The coming of Jesus brought hope to a world that had no hope. For the first time humankind could be redeemed, they could have peace, they could obtain joy, and they could be saved from their sins.
Hope comes when Jesus comes into the heart of individuals. The birth of Jesus was only the beginning of hope. Hope comes in a fuller way when it enters into the heart of individuals. As Isaiah goes on to describe who this child that is born to us is and what we find is a personal God that wants to have an intimate relationship with every man. John says that all those that believe would see and experience the light that came to them. The hope of Jesus is at it’s greatest when it is experienced in the life of the individual through the salvation process. When that happens, a person understands what true hope is. When a family is put back together, or an addict is delivered. When the good ole boy realizes that they are not that good and are in dire need of a savior. Jesus brings hope that all things are new and that anything is possible through the power of God, which works through Jesus.
Lastly, there is hope for the believer in the coming of Jesus. Every generation of Christian believers has waited for the coming of Jesus. Like those of the Old Testament waiting for the birth of Christ, we too, throughout the ages, have been waiting for the return of Christ. The thing that we have to be aware of is not to miss the coming of Jesus. When Jesus was born the prophets had told them where He would be born and they told how He would be born, and yet when Jesus was born there was no one there. Not a priest, not a leader, not even a religious leader. They had all missed the coming of Jesus and even when they found out they did not believe. The warning that we have here is that we cannot miss the coming of Jesus the second time. Like those at the first advent they had been waiting for years and yet when Jesus arrived they missed it because they were so busy. They were more concerned with being right than they were righteous. They had stopped looking for the coming of the Lord. Today we have to ask ourselves the same question, and that is, are we watching and waiting for the coming of Jesus? Without a doubt, we are closer to His coming today than we were yesterday.