The Purpose of His Coming (Matthew 1:21)

WW2015-wk51In Christian circles, you are liable to hear at Christmas, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Certainly, such a statement is true. We have discussed the promise and plan of Christ’s coming because He is the reason for the season. Yet, we would do well to dig a little deeper and to ask, “What is the reason for Christ’s coming?” If Jesus is the reason for the season, it would be wise to address the reason for why ‘the reason for the season’ has come. To be honest, no one answer will suffice. “Why did Jesus come?” is a multi-faceted question. Nevertheless, as we continue our study in Matthew 1, we find one of the purposes for Jesus’ incarnation. Matthew 1:21 informs us, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Cut and clear, Jesus, God in the flesh, has come to earth for the Father’s glory and for His people’s good. Because all have sinned and have rebelled against God, they are facing the judgment and wrath of God. They will be rightly punishment for worshiping false gods and denying the true God. There is no amount of good works or deeds that can bring about salvation and deliverance from this verdict. There is nothing humanity can do in and of themselves to escape this reality. They are stuck in their sins. The only way for salvation to occur is by receiving God’s forgiveness. God’s forgiveness only comes through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Thus, Jesus came to die for our sins. He became our substitute on cross, absorbing the wrath of God, that we may receive forgiveness from God. God can “be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). Because of Christ’s coming, living, dying, rising, and ascending, we can be in relationship with God. We can approach the throne of God only by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 4:14-16). We are not saved by works but by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. We can be forgiven by God through the person and work of Christ by responding with repentance for our sins and placing our trust and faith in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, yes, Jesus is “the reason for the season”. But we should likewise share during this season the reason why the “reason for the season” came.

Reflection Time:

  • Spend some time this Christmas reflecting on why Jesus came and respond in prayer and praise to the Lord.

The Plan of His Coming (Matthew 1:18-25)

WW2015-wk50When somebody has a great idea or concept, they usually are faced with an inquiry that goes something like, “Well, do you have a plan in place for it?” In the same manner, we have observed from the Old Testament God has made a promise. But does this promise come with a plan? The answer if, of course, yes! Just as God made the promise of Christ’s coming, He had a plan in place. This plan involved Joseph, Mary, and an unbelievable birth. In accordance with their Jewish culture, Joseph and Mary were legally pledged to get married. They were virgins and had not known anyone intimately, or at least Joseph thought so. Word came to Joseph that Mary was pregnant. Knowing he had no relations with her, he nothing else to assume other than she had been with another man. Because he was a man of character, he “resolved to divorce her quietly”. He did not want to enter marriage with these circumstances so he thought it best to bow out of the legal pledge for betrothal. But the Lord had other plans for Joseph. Matthew 1:20 elaborates, “But as he considered these things, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” God reminded Joseph, as a son of David, He was going to accomplish His promise through this event. By the child being conceived from the Holy Spirit, the baby would not inherit sin but would be divinity in the flesh. The sin inherited from Adam would not be found in this child. The Virgin, Mary, conceived a son, Jesus, and it is this Jesus who is God in the flesh, God with us (1:23). It is this Jesus who was prophesied about in the Old Testament, in places like the Psalms and Isaiah. It is this Jesus who came as the promise and plan of God. As we will see more next week, Jesus came with a purpose too. He came with the intention of salvation and extending forgiveness for sins. It is no wonder we have plenty to celebrate during this time of year! We are in awe of the promises of God and struck by how He plans His promises to come to fruition. We praise Him for not only giving us the promise of salvation but by showing us His plan as well!

Reflection Time:

  • The plan of the incarnation (a virgin giving birth to a child) seems unbelievable. How would you share this truth with someone who would raise an objection to this event?
  • Meditate on how God planned the incarnation of Jesus. Give Him praise for His promises and plans in the gospel.

The Promise of His Coming (Matthew 1:1-17)

WW2015-wk49As we anticipate the Christmas season, we must keep our focus on why we celebrate the holiday. We rejoice at the reality that Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, came to earth. This is known as the Incarnation. Jesus’ coming to earth should not have come as a surprise. From Genesis 3 throughout the Old Testament, there is a hope for the promised seed to come (see Genesis 3:15). The promises of God to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) and King David (2 Samuel 7) are still waiting to see their complete fulfillment. For this reason, Matthew begins his gospel account by listing the genealogy of Jesus Christ (1:1). Genealogies in the Bible tend to get overlooked and are often passed over. However, it is important to remember God has placed them there for a reason.  We see in Matthew 1 God is showing how the promise He has made is coming to fruition in Jesus Christ. There is not time to go through the entire genealogy right here, but Matthew 1:17 sums it up for us, “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.” The point is there had been a long-awaited promise. Jesus Christ was the expected One. Since Genesis 3, humanity had been looking for an ultimate deliverer to save them. Although Abraham and David were faithful men, they fell short like everybody else (Romans 3:23). Within their family line, though, the Ultimate Deliverer would come. Nobody could save themselves from the judgment and wrath of God but One was to come who would become a substitute for sinful humanity (Isaiah 52-53). The One was Jesus. He lived the perfect life humanity had not, He died on the cross in their place, and He rose again to ensure our reconciliation with God. The promise of His coming saturates the pages of the Old Testament and extends to the New Testament, like here in Matthew 1. The reason we celebrate Christmas can be summed up in three statements: Christ with us, Christ as us, and Christ for us. The Incarnation reminds us Christ came to earth. In order to die in our place, Christ came as one of us. Yes, He was fully divine but He was also fully human. That is why He could be our substitute, and that is what we learn in “Christ for us”. Christ came for us, to save us and reconcile us back to God. So, this Christmas season, meditate on Christ’s incarnation and thank the Lord He is a promise-making and a promise-keeping God!

Reflection Time:

  • How does the promise of God cause you to spend this season with joy in your heart and life?
  • Read Genesis 12 and 2 Samuel 7. Meditate on how these two passages, as well as other Old Testament sections, promise the gospel.

Advent: The Place (John 1:1-14)

ww43When we celebrate Advent, we are celebrating Jesus coming to earth. That is, we are remembering that Jesus came to a place. John 1:1 reminds us that Christ was there in the beginning. He was present when all of creation was taking place. Not only was He, the Word, with God; He was and is God. Jesus Christ is the second person of the triune God. That it is why the truth of John 1:14 is so amazing, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. That, indeed, is the story of Christmas. The God who made us is the God who came to save us by being with us (Matthew 1:23). Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, came to earth to go to a place where we deserved, the cross. We deserved the separation from the Father because of our sinfulness. Yet, we see Jesus Christ as the God-man who was and is full of grace and truth (1:14). He is the true light of the world who has come into the world (1:9). Let’s understand the importance of place here: Jesus came to the place known as earth to live a sinless life because we couldn’t. Jesus went to the place of the cross to die the death we rightfully deserved. Jesus Christ now reigns in the place of heaven beside His Father (Philippians 2:9-11) and will one day rule with His people in the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21:1-4). Case in point, when we open our eyes to Jesus’ coming to earth, we see how important place is. It does not end there, however. We are called to give a response. If we will receive this message of His coming and believe He has went to prepare a place for us (John 14:1-3), then we have the awesome privilege to become the “children of God” (1:12). This is not because of anything we have done but because Christ gave up His life on the cross for our sins and has risen again so that we can be saved by His sacrifice and substitute. Won’t you receive this, the greatest gift, this Christmas?

Reflection Time:

  • Take time in prayer this week and show your thankfulness to God for His coming, giving, and loving through the message of the gospel.

Advent: The Plan (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)

ww42In focusing on the advent of Jesus, we have seen the reason for His coming through two lenses: the problem and the promise. We have sinned and need a Savior. From the narrative of Genesis 3, we see this Savior has been promised to come. But how will this Savior go about being the solution to our problem of sin? For that we turn to God’s plan. As with the case of God’s promises, the Old Testament is replete with explanations of God’s plans. One such plan is laid out in Isaiah 52:13-53:12. The plan begins by showing us a Servant, who we know to be Jesus. He is exalted and lifted up (52:13). However, we also get an understanding of what Christ will do so that He may be exalted over all. He is exalted because of His Person and saving work by coming to earth. Before His exaltation in the resurrection and ascension, Christ Jesus would face humiliation. He would be despised (53:3) and afflicted (53:4). He would suffer by being pierced and crushed. He would do all this for us! He was “pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities” (53:5a). Dealing with our problem of sin, Jesus came to earth, lived a sinless life, and suffered through a horrendous death on a cross for the forgiveness of sins. He died so that we might be forgiven. It is only through this message and Man, the gospel, we can have peace with God and healing brought to our relationship with Him. Christ, our Lord and Savior, makes intercession for us as our Redeemer (53:12). If we repent and trust in this truth, we are saved and reconciled to God. The suffering Servant is the exalted Servant. The awe of this all is this was God’s plan. “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him…the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand” (53:10). Praise be to God for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Reflection Time:

  • How does knowing God’s plan for Christ coming as suffering and exaltation reflect on how we view and live the Christian life?

Advent: The Promise (Genesis 3:15)

ww41Last week we looked at why we celebrate the Advent season and why Jesus needed to come to earth in the first place. The problem of sin and the Fall remind us we fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). We deserve the consequence of death and eternal separation from God because of our sin. Yet, while we learned Jesus came to be the solution to the problem, this is not an unexpected event. Jesus does not show up in the pages of the New Testament from out of nowhere. The Old Testament is full of prophecies and promises that point to Christ. Moreover, immediately following the Fall in Genesis 3, we are given this promise of a Redeemer.  God did not leave Adam and Eve with no hope. Yes, they would have to reap what they did by pain, toil, and death but God did not leave them in the dark. Instead, in His mercy and grace, God gave them and gives us a promise. Speaking to the Serpent, who is Satan, our God declared, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).  There are a couple of interesting things to take note of here. First, there is this one Seed for which God’s people will be redeemed and reconciled to God. From Genesis 3 on, there is an anticipation of who this Seed is. The narratives in the Old Testament cause us to ask the question concerning the characters, “Could this be the seed?” We find out, though, each one fails in some way. Nevertheless, we do see how they point to Jesus. A second consideration from Genesis 3 is the promise of defeat for the devil. Think about it: which one is a more defeating blow: a bruise to the head or a bruise the heel? The devil might have hoped victory was in the bag when Christ was on the cross but Jesus was going to fulfill what God had promise and serve the fatal blow but rising again and, as we wait, and coming back again. So, remember, while we do feel the presence of sin in our lives, we do have the promise of a Redeemer who has power over that sin and has saved us for Himself.

Reflection Time:

  • How does the promise of Redeemer affect your life when you fail and fall into sin?

Advent: The Problem (Genesis 3:1-14)

ww40As we enter this Advent season, it is necessary to ponder why the arrival of Jesus was so significant for mankind. Really, what is it that makes this event stand out? Of course, we know Jesus was the prophesied Messiah. However, before even reaching that point, we must begin with a problem. The very reason for the advent was because there was a problem that needed to be solved. What was and is this problem? Sin! This has been the case ever since Genesis 3. Living in a perfect and good environment with a perfect and good Father, Adam and Eve enjoyed untainted fellowship. Then the deceiving serpent came. God had told Adam in Genesis 2:17 he was not to eat of “the tree of knowledge of good and evil”. The consequence of disobeying that command would be death. But, because of temptation and deception, Adam and Eve fell. The serpent had caused the woman to doubt God’s Word, twist God’s words, and doubt His goodness (3:1-5). Twisting the roles, Satan went to the woman first instead of Adam. Adam, being the leader, was the one warned to not partake in eating the fruit. Unfortunately, Adam did not refuse to eat of it but he also shirked his responsibility by not stepping in as leader and reminding his wife not to eat it because of God’s word. The result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience was as God had said, death. Physical and spiritual death entered the world. The realities of a fallen and sinful world came into being because of disobedience to God’s word. Separation from the presence of God was the penalty for their rebellion to the true and holy God. No matter what they could try to do, Adam and Eve could not repair their relationship with God and restore it in reconciliation. Thanks be to God, though. He has provided a way and has promised a deliverer. And that is why we celebrate this advent season.

Reflection Time:

  • Have you ever taken the time to consider why we celebrate Advent, the coming of Jesus, in the first place? How does Genesis 3 reveal our problem and point to why Jesus is so significant?