Who is coming? What kind of Messiah can we expect? Will he be famous or charismatic? Where will we find the Messiah, and will he be easy to locate? Can we see him, and if not, how long must we wait to look upon his face? Will we even recognize the Savior when he comes? These are the questions of Advent.
We may not recognize or regard Jesus when he comes to us today in words, water, bread, and wine, but if it weren’t for Jesus, the eternal Word of God, the church wouldn’t exist. Jesus lives amongst us. We will not be devastated by unbelief and false teaching. People do not seek the gospel because they want to, but because God’s Word drives them to it. Jesus herds them to himself so that they may repent and believe. He creates a hunger and thirst in them that is not natural and can only be satiated by hearing the words of the Lord (Amos 8:11).
Do we Christians still hunger and thirst like we first did when we first heard the sweet gospel proclamation about Jesus? When the call comes that our Lord is coming to us, do we still hunger for the Bread of Life? Will we still be herded by our Good Shepherd to where he leads? Do we still want the Word of God to occur in our midst?
The coming of Jesus doesn’t impress with pomp or pageantry. It’s a simple, humble, and unimportant moment. It goes unnoticed by the world yet remains the most profound event in history. The living God comes to dwell amongst us. He does not come to appeal to our wisdom, opinions, feelings, or personal tastes. He will only be known as the eternal will and counsel of God. He is God’s justice and mercy in the flesh. He did not come to satisfy his will, but the will of his Father. He does not seek fame, fortune, or power. He has no lust for life that does not get submerged under his giving up his life so that we may live. And after all that, he gathers a congregation around himself - first the disciples, then people from all nations.
This is the message of Advent. Our Jesus comes, and his voice will not be silenced. He will not stop being our God and Savior. Even when Christ’s church stops gathering, stops preaching the gospel, and hides the gifts of salvation behind locked doors from those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, he will not stop calling, gathering, and enlightening those who still need him to feed them.
The Advent message of Jesus’ coming is an affirmation of John’s question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”
We can’t comprehend this kind of justice and mercy. All we can do is preach it to the world that his promise is fulfilled in us because, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives who are oppressed” (Isa 61:1).
The church of Christ is the Advent Church, which proclaims refuge for the brokenhearted and freedom for the captives. The Advent message of Jesus’ coming is an affirmation of John’s question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”
We are always looking for our Messiah to come, the Savior who will confirm our wisdom, opinions, feelings, and personal tastes. But, the One who comes to us swaddled in a manger is the Word of the Lord. “He binds together the miserable, the crushed, the imprisoned, the blind, and the poor of this world...” (Hermann Sasse, Witness, p. 65)
When Jesus comes, “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them” (Matt 11:5).
There will be many who drift away from this message as their faith changes to doubt whether he will come to them, feed them, and comfort them amidst the horrors of this evil world. There will be many who grow homesick for those who are already awaiting them in the Resurrection. Perhaps the churches will all lock their doors, but even if they do, he has promised to leave a remnant so that those who hunger and thirst for something more than Christmas carols, laurel wreaths, and eggnog can be satisfied.
Jesus will not abandon or forsake his people, even as churches are closing. Until the Last Day, there will always be a church on earth where the confession of Jesus Christ will ring out, that the incarnate and eternal Son of God has chosen to come to sinners and to serve them at his table with his body and blood for the forgiveness of sin. He will come to answer their question, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And He will answer, “Yes, I AM. Take and eat; your sin is forgiven.”