Luke 24:1-7. But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
In many ways the birth of Jesus was a preview of his death. At Jesus’ birth Luke describes him being “wrapped in cloths and laid in a manger.” At the end of Luke’s gospel Jesus will be “wrapped in cloths and laid in a tomb.” Luke also places angels at both events. The death of Jesus allows the angelic announcement at his birth (“For unto you is born this day a savior”) to suddenly make sense. There is no savior without sacrifice. There is no savior without substitution. Something the shepherds of Bethlehem guarding the sacrificial lambs for Jerusalem knew all too well.
Angels bookend the life of Jesus. His birth and his rebirth. Their heavenly announcements reveal the plan of God. “Born unto us a savior….he has risen.”
What does this tell us? It tells us that the advent of Christ was meant for something beyond Christmas. It tells us that the incarnation of God was meant to bring us life through death and resurrection.
The Risen Christ Appears, He Qi.
Why the advent? So that God could join himself to humanity in order to restore his creation.
Why the advent? So that Jesus could do for humanity what no human has never done – love God and love others.
Why the advent? So that Jesus could live FOR us, fulfilling all the righteous requirements of God’s law.
Why the advent? So that God could know us intimately by experiencing life as one of us – a “one flesh” union.
Why the advent? So that Jesus can actually be our understanding and compassionate high priest. One who has been tempted in all the same ways as us, yet without sin.
Why the advent? Because the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified.
Why the advent? So that Jesus could give his life for us, taking the penalty for all sin upon himself on the cross.
Why the advent? So that Jesus, by his resurrection, would conquer Sin and Death paving the way for our own resurrection.
Why the advent? So that Jesus might share his divine life with us, not as a reward, but as a gracious gift.
Why the advent? So that we might be transformed into Christ’s image. Not only forgiven, but gloriously changed!
Why Christmas? So that there could be an Easter.
Why Easter? In the words of James Martin: To prove that life is stronger than death. That love is stronger than hate. That hope is stronger than despair. That nothing is impossible for God. That suffering does not have the last word. And that Jesus Christ is Lord.
He is not the living among the dead. He is the living among the living – us! May we live in this new year as though we actually have the risen Christ in us. May we live from his grace and love each day as we await the final advent of our risen Lord and Savior.
What might 2020 look like if you were to fully embrace the life of Christ in you? How does the life of Christ in you allow you to fully pursue Christ without fear of failure?