Advent: The Expectation and the Reality

posted by Bethel Creative Arts | Dec 9, 2019

By Karen Gervais

I Wonder as I Wander

Do you ever wonder how our B.C. (before Christ) foremothers and fathers envisioned the First Advent of Christ?  

Perhaps for many, the expectation was a royal birth into a fine Jewish family who could offer the comforts of wealth, status and privilege. Naturally, this would progress to a triumphant tenure as the King of Israel.  With his throne established, Messiah would overthrow the crushing tide of Roman rule and beat back all of Israel’s rivals.

Free at last.

Of course, He would be warmly affirmed by the religious governing body and bring back Israel’s golden years.  It would be the Promised Land again -- flowing with milk and honey with political and religious freedom for all. 

Israel would regain her rightful place as Messiah ruled on David’s Throne with an iron scepter.  

At least that’s what many thought.

A Thrill of Hope

For many awaiting Messiah’s First Advent, it would be a classic case of “expectation vs. reality.”  

But, Christ saw fit to violate their expectations in order to reveal a more incredible reality.

In a way no one could have imagined, God entered humanity as a microscopic embryo, formed of the very cells that his powerful words held together.   We call this unexplainable miracle the “Incarnation.”  

But, before He even left the warmth of his mother’s womb, He was maligned and misunderstood, much less welcomed.  Instead of the royal swaddled in silk wrappings, the world reluctantly received a child pushed out of a common girl into a bed of straw. He didn’t present from a status family, but from the loins of unwed virgin who was labeled scandalous by the high-brow establishment.  He would be scornfully nicknamed “the carpenter’s son” even though his paternity was questioned with regularity. 

This was a case of reality being so much more stunning and scandalous than the expectation that very few could behold the glory of the only begotten One, full of grace and truth. 

Many missed the most amazing moment of human history-- the arrival the long-awaited Messiah-- because they did not have the eyes to see. 

Rather, because they didn’t see what they wanted to see. 

Their lack of vision skewed their expectation, so when the reality arrived, many rejected him or missed him altogether.  

But for the grace of God, so would have I.

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

When Jesus began his earthly ministry, He stood in the temple to read from the Scroll of Isaiah. “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 proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  And He rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18-21, ESV)

The Anointed One.  Messiah.

He came to them. 

He came to us.

To be one of us. To be for us. To redeem us. 

To hunger and to thirst, to learn to walk and talk, to cry and feel pain, and to be both loved and hated, embraced and rejected. 

He incurred the wrath of the powerful. He was adored by the simple. 

He elevated the lowly and freed those enslaved to sin just like He said He would. 

Despite the ensuing scandal, accusations and scorn; the plan of ages unfolded.  And it was glorious. His Advent was the most sacrificially loving and purposeful act in the history of mankind–delivering us from the penalty and power of sin—and yet, to those who wouldn’t see, it appeared a vulgar, wasted life worthy of a shameful death.  

Certainly not the Savior they were expecting.

Do You See What I See?

Jesus Christ far exceeded expectations in the reality of his Advent.  As He prophesied in the temple, He fulfilled his promise to be the Gospel, freeing us, delivering us and inviting us into the Lord’s favor. By laying aside his heavenly majesty and entering our poverty, He made us sons and daughters of God.  Tidings of comfort and joy! How incredible is that?

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

As “those who see” on the other side of the First Advent, we look back in gratitude for the dawn of our Emmanuel.  But, are we looking forward expectantly to Christ’s Second Advent? 

This glorious future day will be the culmination of the Gospel, where we will be fully delivered from the presence of sin and forever with the Lord. Do you have eyes to see? Do you live in expectation of this soon reality: The Second Advent of our great God and Savior?  

Christ has already told us that regardless of our expectations of this next Advent, the reality (like his first) will be somewhat mysterious and far beyond anything we could conceive…

”Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9) 

Open our eyes to see, Lord!

The death of death itself.  

Free at last.

Forever with the Lord.  

Can you see it? 

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