Christmas is a time of longings. Yearnings. Great Expectations.
For many, all of those emotions are directed at gifts. O, how we just can’t wait to get at those pretty boxes decked with beautiful bows! They beckon to us.
Last night, in our Christmas Eve service at Calvary Community Church, I was reminded of far better, and far deeper, longings. I heard through the voices of Zechariah, Mary, Simeon, and Anna the climax of generations of longings and expectation. They too had those heart-yearnings directed toward a gift, but that gift would be the Messiah. They knew that his coming would usher in an era far better than any that had ever been known.
We have the deep benefit of living in that era, now realized because of Christ’s advent. Jesus himself spoke of this, and Peter echoes his statement in his first epistle:
Matt. 13.17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
1Pet. 1.10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
What should such knowledge produce?
Contentment. Joy. Peace. Satisfaction.
No matter what comes, part of what Christmas day should produce in us is the glorious reminder of what the coming of Jesus meant, and means. Jesus brought fulfillment to all that God promised he would do for his people, fulfillment of longings, yearnings, and expectations. God has saved his people. He himself has paid for sin. He himself has given light and eternal life to men. It is why the angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest!” It was because the Good News of grace and peace and salvation would be for all people. Jews and Gentiles. Young and Old. Rich and Poor. Slave and Free. Male and Female.
Of course, even after all of this, the ironic truth is the longing isn’t over, but re-directed. For now our longing and eager expectation is for his second return. Paul writes:
Rom. 8.18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
The kingdom of heaven is at hand. We are the privileged sons and daughters of the new covenant, basking in all of its promises. However, this kingdom is not yet consumated. We (with all of creation) should be marked with “eager longing” for the full revealing of the sons of God, which will occur at the second advent of our beautiful Savior, Jesus Christ.
Even as we celebrate the birth of Christ this day, and all he has fulfilled, may we also celebrate the glory that is yet to be revealed to us.
Such thoughts make me truly merry today.
Rom. 11.33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
Rom. 11.34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
Rom. 11.36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.