Monday, December 16, 2013

Are You the One Who Is to Come?

Two weeks ago, I posted some thoughts on advent that were preparatory material for yesterday’s communion devotional.  Below is what I shared.

“Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

In Matthew 11, John the Baptizer from prison sent disciples to Jesus asking this question.  What response did they receive?  Watch and listen.
Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.  And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.
What had been prophesied by Isaiah concerning Messiah was coming to pass before them: his advent was in full swing.  Yes, Jesus is the one to come.

Why did he add that last comment: “blessed is the one who is not offended by me”?  First, John's disciples needed to loosen their bond with the Baptizer in order to follow Christ. Earlier, in a moment of misplaced zeal prior to John's imprisonment, those disciples had taken offense at Jesus because everybody was following after the new Rabbi, to which John replied, “Good.  He must increase, and I must decrease.”  Those who hear the promise need to grasp hold of the reality.

The second reason for the comment?  An advent still remains.  Jesus is coming in power and glory.  Those who have believed the gospel, he will welcome into eternal glory—the bridegroom coming for his bride.  Theirs is eternal blessing.  Those who are offended, who do not believe, are sent to eternal punishment and eternal destruction.

In between the first and second advent is another advent, a different kind of advent.  What do I mean?  He comes as we gather together.  How so?  From beginning to end of scripture, you will find God coming to be with his people whenever they are gathered unto him.  We see this played out in the tabernacle, the temple, and looking to the New Jerusalem.  He is here now.  Where we see this especially is in the tangible elements Jesus gave to his disciples on the night he was betrayed:
He took the bread, gave thanks, broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you.”
Then after supper, he took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.”
God remembered our sinful state.  The Son came willingly, paid the debt for all—every sin of every person, and left this continual remembrance that we receive.  In the eating and drinking, Messiah comes to you.

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