Dec 2, 2019
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
Can you believe Advent has begun? Well, actually, it's not hard to believe it's here given the number of months the Christmas trees and Black Friday sales have been beating us over the head. It seems the commercialization of the season gets earlier every year. I think I saw the first Christmas tree sale in June this year and the first mention of early Black Friday sales before Halloween.
So for some, Advent means all those commercials finally come to a screeching halt. Not really, because after Christmas, all the retailers try to get rid of their inventory before taxes come due. New Year's sales bombard us just as vigorously as Black Friday sales, just not as long. But Advent for those retail clerks means the mad rush is slowing down a little.
For some, Advent means pockets fill because of those weeks of sales. Marketing reaches the highs of the year to get all the merchandise sold. It means long hours but with a substantial financial reward if all goes well. Owners like Advent for the boost in profits and the hope of a better bottom line when markets start a little sluggish or stagnate in the middle of the year.
But for Christians, Advent means something very different. It's a time to remember a past event when God descended to earth to dwell among us in human flesh. Jesus lived with us, suffered all the things we suffer, worked, played, laughed, cried. He was human in every respect. Jesus was also God in every respect. God incarnate. Advent looks to the past at the incredible love God demonstrated by becoming like us.
Advent also looks to the future. It reminds us Jesus said he would return to take those who believe in him to live with him forever in a new creation, a new heaven and earth born from the destruction of this one. He told his followers to watch for his return. But Jesus did something some think peculiar. He didn't tell them when he would return, just to be ready.
Jesus taught in parables most often because we remember stories so much better than we remember lectures. So his lessons come through the stories he told. Many of his parables deal with the warning to be ready for his coming. But He sometimes gave straightforward warnings about preparations for his return. One such warning appears in the lectionary for the First Sunday of Advent that starts the new Christian calendar year. It comes from Matthew chapter twenty-four:
"But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left.
Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.
Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
It would be nice if God told us when he would come, but you know what would happen. In my travels around the world, I've found that people can and will do incredibly horrible things to each other. We see it here in the drug and sex trafficking. We see it through the news media every day as political parties attack each other just because they can. We seldom hear the whole truth anymore about any story. The story twists to what someone wants to persuade us to lean to their side. It's easy to understand why Pilot asked Jesus, "What is truth?"
If God told us when he would return, we would be horribly evil and do terrible things against each other until a few hours before his return. Then the churches would be full. Altars would be lined with seekers asking forgiveness. Most of us would wait until the very last minute to try to squeak into heaven on God's good graces.
God doesn't want us to squeak by. He wants us to worship him because he is God. He wants us to love him because he is love. God wants us to serve him because of the sacrifice he made for us out of his love for us. God wants us to understand who he is and so give ourselves as a living sacrifice to him so that others will know him.
God wants us to demonstrate every day the love he has for the world by loving others the way he demonstrates his love for us. Jesus told us all the Father's authority rests in him. Then he told us all the commandments can be summarized in just two. The first, love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. But before anyone could question him about that one, he said the second commandment is like the first. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Those are the two commandments Jesus told us to follow. Love God and love others. And he told us you can't love an invisible God if you can't love the visible people around you. Then he showed us what love looks like by allowing himself to be arrested unjustly tried and executed in a manner reserved for the worst offenders of the law. Laws he never broke.
Even the laws the Pharisees said he broke concerning the Sabbath, when you read them carefully, Jesus only spoke most of the time. He told the man to stretch out his hand. He told the man to stand and walk. He told the woman she was healed. Most of his Sabbath healings, he just spoke. Even those in which he did something physical were not so dramatic physically that they violated the law. He spit on the ground and made mud. He touched a man's ears. He touched a man's eyes. Nothing worthy of the charges brought against him.
Even the charge of blasphemy for which the council finally found a reason to crucify him in their mock trial. Jesus never said the words for which he was convicted. As you read the transcript, you'll find the chief priest asked the question, "Are you the Messiah?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am." Is that Jesus confirming the truth or the high priest confirming the truth of his claims? Who is guilty here? So Jesus never broke any of the laws of Moses. Still, he was crucified based on those laws.
The real reason for his death? The council proclaimed it. If Jesus kept doing the things he did, people would believe him and follow him. The Romans would come and take away their place of power and their nation. They envied his position as Messiah, the Savior of God's people.
Jesus is coming back. We will stand on the side of those who believe in him for eternal life, followers of his way of life. Or we will stand with Pharisees and Sadducees, envious of his power and position as God. It's been that way since Satan tempted Adam and Eve with what they thought was the opportunity to be like God. They were not; we are not.
There is only one God. He came to live with us. He died for us. He promised to live in us. We celebrate Advent because of that promise and his promise to return to take us with him forever. Look for him in all you do in celebrating this year.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked NIV are taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV): Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™. Used by permission of Zondervan