The following post is written by East-West’s Executive Vice President of Ministry Engagement.
Advent (ad-vent), noun. “The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.”
My son-in-law has been deployed on multiple long assignments over the past 20 years. When his children learn the day of his return from deployment, they make a chain out of paper links with one link for each day until their dad returns. Day by day, they tear off a link and watch the chain shrink as they anticipate the return of their father.
In a sense, this is an “advent chain”. It marks the time until Papa returns. It is a chain that chronicles anticipation, patience, impatience, hopefulness, and longing to have their Papa home. It is a tool to quantify heart longings and anticipation.
We are living today between the two greatest events in all of human history: The first advent of Jesus and the second advent of Jesus. In other words, the first arriving of Jesus on the planet and the second arriving of Jesus on the planet.
Jesus is the Son of God and the most influential Man who ever lived. He has had more influence and catalyzed more change and divided more families and been written about, talked about, and blogged about more than any human in history. Immeasurably more.
Jesus’ birth occurred in Bethlehem sometime in the winter of 4 BC. This is the First Advent, the first arrival of Jesus the Son of God in the flesh.
In the nine months leading up to His birth there were only four people marking the days until His arrival—His mother Mary, His stepfather Joseph, His relative Elizabeth, and His relative Zacharias. These were the first four people to observe “Advent” as they anticipated the arrival of Jesus.
The first advent of Jesus enabled:
- His sinless life
- His experience of temptation like we all do
- His life of total submission to the Father
- His life of total dependence on the Spirit
- His skillful training of His followers
- His crucifixion as the sacrifice in the place of every human who ever lived
- His resurrection from the dead
- His commissioning of His disciples (including us)
- His ascensions back to His Father in heaven
The first advent of Jesus profoundly changed life and eternity for me when I trusted in Christ decades ago. The first advent of Jesus enables and offers profound change for every lost person for all of time and eternity. And that is the understatement of the millennium.
The first advent means that saved people have both hope to enjoy and hope to share. It means that lost people have hope to gain. It means that unreached people have no hope and no prospect of hope unless someone comes in from outside. It means that there will be a second advent of Jesus.
Two foundational commands arise from the first advent. Jesus says to all lost people, “Come to Me”. He says to all saved people, “Go to them”.
The first advent changes everything.