Thursday, December 25, 2014

THE SECOND ADVENT (Revelation Chapter 19)

Revelation 19:12, “And on his head are many diadems”

Merry Christmas!  Today we rejoice in the first advent of the Lord Jesus who “came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).  We are almost to the end of our reading through the New Testament.  It’s been almost a year since we began and read in the early chapters of Matthew of His first advent.  And now in this chapter we read of His second.

It’s good for us to connect the two together.  In fact, it is impossible to rightly celebrate Christmas—in God-intended fashion at least—apart from understanding the whole truth about Jesus Christ.  We read through the narrative of Jesus’ birth last night at our Christmas Eve service.  That God in His love would condescend to our need in sending His Son is glorious truth indeed, as Martin Luther has noted: “The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.”  The nativity scene speaks to this mystery, but there is more to the story.

Jesus Christ is the CREATOR.  John 1:3, “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”  This is an important truth to remember in our consideration of the import of Christmas.  The Apostle John spoke of the creator’s identity and advent when he wrote: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  The hymnwriter put it this way: “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.”

He was in a CRADLE.  Mary “gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).  In His first advent He came in humility.  There was no place for Him in the inn.  They laid Him in a feeding trough.  He received no royal reception and was instead welcomed by shepherds and foreigners.  He lived a humble life for “He came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45; Cf. Philippians 2:5-8).

He died on a CROSS.  To fulfill the Father’s will, Jesus purposed to die on a cross for sins.  Having been delivered up, they “stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand.  And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying ‘Hail, King of the Jews’” (Matthew 27:28-29)!   And as He hung there on that cross—the subject of mocking abuse—the sign above His head seemed to mock Him too.  Pilate had written the inscription.  The chief priests tried to make a change, but Pilate stood by what he wrote.  The sign was written in four languages and said, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (Matthew 19:20).  It spoke the truth, though on that day He appeared to be anything but a king.

He will wear a CROWN.  He’s coming again.  The first time He came in humility, but He’s coming again in glory.  Revelation chapter 19 speaks to the events associated with His return.  He will come on a white horse to judge and make war (Cf. Revelation 19:11).  He will be accompanied by the armies of heaven (Cf. Revelation 19:14).  He will “tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty” (Revelation 19:15).  He will be clothed in a “robe dipped in blood” symbolizing not His redemptive work, but His coming again in judgment (Cf. Revelation 19:13; Isaiah 63:3-6).  He will wear on his head “many diadems” which speak to His identity as the Sovereign ruler over all.  His robe likewise speaks to this having the name written on it, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16).  Jesus is no longer a babe in a manger.  He is the risen and returning Lord who is coming to reign forever and ever.  He exchanged His kingly crown for a crown of thorns in His first advent.  He will wear glorious crowns in His second. 

The hymn, “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne,” speaks to both advents of Christ: “Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown when Thou camest to earth for me.  But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room for Thy holy nativity.  Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word that should set Thy people free; but with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn they bore Thee to Calvary.  When the heav’ns shall ring and the angels sing at Thy coming to victory, Let Thy voice call me home, saying, ‘Yet there is room—There is room at My side for thee. My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus, when Thou comest and callest for me!”  Is He—this Creator who was laid in a Cradle then put upon a Cross to one day be Crowned—your Savior and Lord?  To celebrate Christmas in God-intended fashion one must first receive Him in the entirety of His person and not just as the babe of Christmas.  To those who thus receive Him He gives the best gift of all, “the right to become (a child) of God” (John 1:12; Cf. 2 Corinthians 9:15).

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