Why did God announce the greatest news of all time to some of the least-respected people of the day? So the world might know that even the worst of sinners may have peace with God through Jesus Christ. God has done it all for His glory and His grace has become our joy!
Mary rejoiced by focusing on God rather than herself. Zechariah took it one step further by specifically focusing on God’s past, present, and future grace through our Lord Jesus Christ. No matter what we face in a given day, our sure hope is found in what God has done, is doing, or will yet do in Christ for His glory.
After encountering the angel Gabriel, Mary did not focus on her poverty, her obscurity, her weakness, or her impending unwed pregnancy and social rejection. She focused on the Lord and His promise and her heart was filled with joy. Our focus determines our joy. When we focus on ourselves, our misery is compounded. But when we focus on our Savior, His limitless joy becomes ours to the praise of His glorious grace.
One of the most amazing things about Jesus’ final encounter with Peter is that He not only forgave his betrayal, but restored him to a position of leadership. Christ’s love is so deep that it that it not only saves us, but restores us to the places God intended for us from the beginning. Part of the good news of Advent is that there is no life so lost or broken that it cannot be restored by the love of Christ through His work on the cross.
Jesus was not known for aggressive behavior, but following His triumphal entry He zealously drove merchants out of the temple area, overturned the tables of the moneychangers, and barred people from carrying merchandise through the temple courts. What would ignite such a response from our Savior? Nothing short of love for the lost, whose access to the atoning grace of God was being blocked by commercial interests. Our Lord’s first advent was marked by a passion to reach the lost; a passion He imparts to us as we await His second glorious advent.
In Jesus’ day lepers were helpless, isolated, and hopeless. They faced shame, rejection, and ultimately death. Yet at the hand of Jesus they found cleansing and life. We, too, have a terminal disease far worse than leprosy called sin. Yet at the hand of Jesus we find cleansing and life through the Savior whose compassion on the cross knew no limit.
Matthew Levi’s dream job had become a nightmare. He had gotten rich, but at the expense of becoming an outcast from his own people. Worst of all, there was no way out. He was trapped in the snare his own hands had created. But into his world of merited misery came the unmerited love of Jesus Christ. The One who was born to die showed undeserved grace to a sinner in desperate need. Praise be to God, He continues to do so today!
As we move into the Advent season, we’ll look at Luke’s account of the heavenly host that appeared at Christ’s birth. The angel’s proclamation that the Messiah has been born presented the shepherds with the paradoxical picture of a conquering king who is a mere baby. This divine paradox of the victorious Christ, the Lamb of God, was first revealed partially in Genesis, and is finally revealed explicitly in Revelation, where Jesus is portrayed in all of His glory as the victorious Lion.
The “hope” offered by the things of this life is either fake or fleeting. When confronted with the reality of our sin, the pain of our affliction, and the passage of time such promises of hope never stand up. Only Jesus offers an eternal hope that transcends the sin and suffering of this life through His supreme suffering on the cross.
Guilt is a terrible thing. It racks our souls and robs us of joy in every area of life. Resentment is no better. It embitters our spirits and consumes us as we fixate on those who have wronged us. Only Jesus provides the blessed hope of forgiveness when we can’t forgive ourselves - or others!