Tuesday, December 24, 2019

"Waiting for the Messiah to Come" Christmas Eve Message 2019

Waiting for the Messiah to Come
Christmas Eve Candlelighting Service
December 24, 2019

Advent means “coming.” Christmas is coming...tomorrow!

Jesus has come and is coming again.

We say that every year, don’t we?

And with good reason. Because that’s what the Advent season is all about, focusing on the coming of the Christ.

“Waiting for the Messiah to Come.”

That’s the whole point of Advent.

This year has been very special because we’ve been focusing on the similarities between the two comings of the Christ.

The first coming and the second coming.

Not only are they the two comings of the same Christ, but the waiting for both comings is also very similar.

If you have your Bible, do something for me. Or grab one of the Pew Bibles in the rack in front of you. And find the Gospel of Matthew. That’s the first book of the New Testament. It’s the one we’ve been studying as a church for the last two years on Sunday mornings. We’ll be back at it this Sunday at 10am, and we’d love to have you join us.

What I want you to do is to pinch the Old Testament with your left hand.

Put your index finger on the outside of your Bible or at Genesis 1 and put your thumb at Matthew chapter 1.

Feel that?

That’s a whole lot of waiting for the Messiah to come.

Everything in your left hand is under the shadow of waiting for the Messiah to arrive on the scene for the very first time.

Now with your right hand, I want you to pinch the New Testament from Acts to the Revelation. So find Acts with your thumb and put your right index finger on the back of your Bible.

Except for the four gospels between your thumbs there, just about everything in your Bible pulsates with anticipation of one or the other of the comings of Jesus Christ.

And that’s how we’re living today.

Let’s think about how the left hand believers waited and how we as right hand believers should we waiting today ourselves.

On the First Sunday of Advent, Abe & Jordyn lit our first candle, and said that it was a Candle of Confidence.

Faithful believers have always fully trusted in God's promise of a Messiah.

The Old Testament there in your left hand overflows with strong and mysterious promises of a ruler who will come to rescue his people. And throughout the centuries his people waited with full assurance that he would come and bring each promise to fulfillment.

When Jesus met the woman at the well, she declared her confidence.

She said, "I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” And Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he."

But His first coming was not His last.

Jesus has told us that He is coming again. So now like the men and women of old, we wait with confidence in His promises which are certain and sure.

We’ve been reading about that on Sunday mornings in Matthew 24 and 25. When He prophesied of His return, our Lord Jesus assured us, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."

Do you have confidence that Jesus is coming back?

Because sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. I mean, it’s been 2000 years since He ascended to the Father.

On the Second Sunday of Advent, Bob & Sylvia lit our second candle and said that it was a Candle of Patience.

Though God's people had confidence in God's promises, their confidence was often tried and tested. They had to wait a long long time for the Messiah to arrive!

Think about your Old Testament. All of those pages in your left hand.

Centuries passed. Kings came, and kings went away. Some kings brought some rescue, but all kings disappointed in many ways. For thousands of years, the Messiah did not come. And yet the people of God waited patiently.

The psalmist expressed this heart of patience in Psalm 130.

He said: “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.”

And that patience was rewarded. Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. And He brought redemption through His blood.

And yet now we are called again to wait patiently for His return. Many centuries have passed once more. We wait in anticipation like watchmen for the morning for the return of Christ. We know that He is coming, but we do not know when.

Do you know when?

No. So we wait, and we wait some more.

Are you waiting patiently for the coming of the Messiah?

Now, don’t get me wrong.

“Patient” does not mean “passive.”

The waiting that we are supposed to do is a very active waiting.

On the third Sunday of Advent, two friends Amy and Renee lit our third candle and called it a Candle of Diligence.

Hard work. The very opposite of passiveness.

The waiting that we are supposed to do is a very active waiting.

It was for the lefthand believers, wasn’t it?

While they waited for the Messiah in the Old Testament, God's people did not sit idle. Prophets, priests, kings, and ordinary kingdom citizens continued to faithfully do the Lord's will and work.

The lefthand side of your Bible is full of purposeful activity!

Waiting in anticipation of the Messiah is never an excuse for laziness but instead a motivation for persevering in hard work. That’s what we’ve seen the last two Sundays in Jesus’ teaching about His return.

He said to stay busy:

Matthew 24:45&46, “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.”

What do you want to be doing when Jesus comes back?

I don’t know about you, but I want to be busy doing what He left for me to do.

So while we wait, we work.

While we wait, we work.

What kingdom work are you doing with diligence while you wait for the Messiah to come?

On the fourth Sunday of Advent, the Kristofiti (that’s the plural of Kristofits, the Kristofi) lit our fourth candle, and told us that it was a Candle of Exuberance.

Which is just a fancy word for “joy.”

The people in your left hand, in the Old Testament always believed that the coming of the Messiah would usher in incredible joy.

Here’s one of my favorite verses in the whole Old Testament.

It’s from Isaiah 51. I’m going to be focusing on the Book of Isaiah in my devotions in 2020.

Listen to this. Isaiah 51:11

“The ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

Doesn’t that sound good?

“Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

And so it was. On that first Christmas, what did the army of angels announce to the shepherds?

“Good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

Good news of great joy.

Do you have that?

Yes, we do. But there is more to come.

This is not all of the joy that there is.

Believe me!

The apostle Peter said, “Though you have not seen [Jesus], you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

There is so much more to come.

One day “sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

There will be no more sorrow or sighing.

Can you imagine?

Christmas is hard time of year for many people. Because we feel the loss of so many of our loved ones.

Who is not at your Christmas table this year?

Who is not at your Christmas gathering?

Who is not here at church with you this year who always used to be?

That’s sorrow and sighing.

But when the Messiah comes again, gladness and joy will overtake His people, and “sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

Everlasting joy will crown our heads!

Joy to the world because the Lord is come!

How do you respond to that except to pray for and long for Jesus to come?!

Our last candle is the Christ Candle, and it’s a candle of expectance.


And expectance.

And by that, tonight, I mean longing.

Do you long for the coming of the Messiah?

Do you long for the return of Christ?

Do you long for Jesus to appear?

Because it’s all about Him.

Jesus is not only the reason for the season.

He’s also the focus of our expectation.

Hebrews 9:27&28 says, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people [That’s the gospel!]; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin [this time], but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

Are you waiting for Him?

With confidence, patience, diligence, and exuberance?

At the end of his life, the Apostle Paul said, “[T]he time has come for my departure.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

Are you longing for Jesus’ appearing?

I think we often can’t wait for Christmas to come, but we are indifferent to the second coming of Christ which is so much more important!

If you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you will long for Him to come and bring His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

We don’t know when it’s going to be.

So we trust.
And we wait. And we wait some more.
And we work while we wait.
And we believe.

But we also long for that joy to come in all of its fullness.

And we long for our Savior to come and rescue us from all evil.

And we even pray for it.

Do you know what is the last prayer in the whole Bible?

If you still have your right hand pinching the New Testament, look the last page by your right index finger.

Second to last verse of the Bible. Last prayer. What does it say?

“He who testifies to these things [Jesus] says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ [And here’s the prayer:] Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

That’s our prayer. “Come, Lord Jesus, come.”