Advent Reflection – Week 1
The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham… (Matt. 1:1)
This is the way that the Gospel of Matthew begins. It starts with a long genealogy from Abraham to Jesus “who is called the Messiah” (Matt.1:2-16). This genealogy spans thousands of years and hinges upon two grand promises.
The first promise was given to Abraham, the father of the children of Israel. In Genesis 12:1-3, God speaks to him and says, “Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” And in Gen. 12:7, God says, “I will give this land to your offspring” (ie. seed).
The second promise was given to David, the king of Israel. In 2 Samuel 7, God speaks to David and says, “The LORD Himself will make a house (ie. dynasty) for you. When your time comes and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (7:12-13).
It’s when we come to the pages of the New Testament that we see these promises begin their fulfillment in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. In Galatians 4:16, we see that Jesus is the promised Seed of Abraham. In Acts 3:25-26, we see that Jesus is God’s Servant who brings “blessing to the families of the earth”. In Romans 1:3, Jesus is referred to as “Jesus Christ (the Messiah) our Lord, who was a descendent of David according to the flesh.” In the beginning of his earthly ministry, Jesus proclaims, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news (Mark 1:15)!” In the apocalyptic vision of John, Jesus says of Himself, “I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star” (Rev.22:16).
There are numerous Scriptures that allude to this, but the point is clear – Jesus is the long awaited King from David’s line; and He is the long awaited Seed of Abraham. This is what Christmas is all about. It’s the good news that God has kept His promises. It’s the good news that Jesus is the King who brings peace and blessing to all who come under His rule.
Yet, we still wait for the final fulfillment of these promises in His return. This is what the season of Advent is all about. It’s about living by faith. It’s about waiting. It’s about looking for the arrival of God’s promises in Christ.
Waiting isn’t easy. This is because waiting usually entails suffering. It entails a groaning, a longing, and a bearing up with the adversities that assault us along the way. This was the story of the generations leading up to Jesus. In these ancient fathers and mothers, we witness the trials of slaves and refugees (Matt.1:2-5). We witness the sins and betrayals of adulterers, victims; the rise and fall of good and wicked kings (1:6-11). We witness the reaping of corruption in exile and the broken spirit of those who returned (1:12-15). We witness the unsettled waiting of a girl named Mary, and the compassionate risk of a man named Joseph (1:16). In short, the road is marked by folly and failure, sin and suffering, weeping and waiting. And on the dawn of Christmas morning, Jesus the Son of David, the Seed of Abraham shows us that God is to be found in our waiting and is trustworthy in His promises.
On this side of Bethlehem, we wait once more. Yet, it’s in our looking back on the fulfillment of the promise that we can look forward with restless longing and hope.
“The only ones who can wait are people who carry restlessness around with them.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
May we pray as Jesus taught us – “May thy kingdom come and thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”