Blessed Anticipation

For many, it is a season of anticipation. The anticipation of giving gifts . . . the anticipation of receiving gifts. The anticipation of family gatherings . . . the anticipation of making more memories. For some, it is the anticipation of the happiest time of the year . . . and sadly, for some, the dread of the loneliest time of the year. But at the core of it all, there should be a reliving of the anticipation of the arrival of the promised Child. He who was to be born of a virgin . . . whose name was to be called Jesus . . . who was to come to save people from their sin. We meditate on the wonders of His birth . . . the glory of angels praising God . . . the awe of no name shepherds standing before a manger. This is a time of anticipation.

Two of my readings this morning broadened that realm of anticipation . . .

After spending some quality one-on-one time with His disciples, Jesus and His disciples withdrew to the garden (John 18:1). A place they had been before . . . a place of prayer . . . soon to be a place of betrayal . . . a place, John says, of anticipation.

Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to Him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He.” . . .    (John 18:4-5a ESV)

That phrase pounds in my head . . . “knowing all that would happen to Him.” Jesus knew how these next hours would play out. The arrest . . . the bogus trial . . . the beatings . . . the mocking. He would stand before the elite of Israel and before the representative of Rome . . . only to be sacrificed for their personal agenda’s. He would be led to a hill . . . He would be nailed to a cross . . . forsaken of the Father . . . wounded for our transgressions . . . crushed for our iniquities. He knew all that would happen to Him. O, the dread anticipation of the cross.

I’m thinking that the anticipation that is ours during this season cannot be allowed to occur in isolation. But that it needs to be enveloped in the reality that He was born to die . . . that the Son of God was given that He might be the Lamb of God . . . that Immanuel became flesh that He might pour out His lifeblood for the remission of sin and the redemption of many. O, what bittersweet anticipation.

Then I read in Revelation of another facet of the anticipation . . .

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”
(Revelation 11:15 ESV)

John, in his vision of things to come, enters into the anticipation of a King coming fully into His kingdom. That day when He who was born “king of the Jews” (Matt. 2:2) will be shown to all to be the King of Kings. Heaven holds its breath as the final trumpet is blown . . . as the beginning of the end of the age is initiated . . . as the final countdown is initiated which will culminate with the Christ child reigning forever and ever.

And I’m also thinking that the anticipation of Christmas day should cause us to look beyond the season and towards a day yet to come when He will return in all His glory. That the manger, after giving away to the cross, will soon give way to a throne. That He is not just a babe to be cooed over, but a Sovereign to bow before and pledge our allegiance to. O holy night when Christ was born . . . O glorious day when Christ will return to reign!

What blessed anticipation! Amen?

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