Today is the second Sunday of Advent. Advent, which means “coming” or “arrival,” is a time of preparing ourselves for the celebration of the birth of Christ, as well as preparing for Christ’s second coming.
Christmas is an Incredible Story: God coming to earth in the form of a human being, a helpless baby. Christ left heaven and came to earth to save us from our sins!
But, Christmas can be a hectic time. A little girl was pushing the limits of her mother’s very last nerve. Mom was nearing the end of a hectic season of cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping and church stuff. She was also nearing the breaking point with her little pre-schooler. Finally the little girl was bathed and ready for bed. As she knelt to say her prayers, Mom listened as her sweet three year old theologian “customized” her evening prayer, …And forgive us our Christmases, as we forgive those who Christmas against us!
Christmas is about love and peace, and yet, it can be filled with stress and be characterized by impatience!
Again, during this Advent season, we’ll be focusing on the prayers that are spoken during the course of the Christmas story. Today, we’ll take a second look at Mary’s Song (the Magnificat).
Message of the Kingdom of God …
When you look at the teaching Jesus did in the Gospel, you notice that the heart of his message was about God’s kingdom. John the Baptist (whose birth we’ll take a closer look at next week) was sent to prepare the way for the Messiah. His message? “Repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand.” God’s kingdom changes everything!
God turns the world upside down …
By exalting the humble
God chooses David: God sent Samuel to Bethlehem, to a man named Jesse, because God chose one of his sons to be the new king.
“But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Jesus, Matthew 19.30)
Everything happens in God’s time: God removes princes/strong rulers in his time. God exalts the humble/lowly in his time! In fact, when God spoke to Samuel, and sent him to Jesse, God said, “You have mourned long enough for Saul.”
The world exalts the strong. Look at many of the nations in the world where “strong rulers” reign over others. In many of those same nations, the poor and the weak are victimized. But it won’t always be that way; in God’s time, the strong will be dragged down, and the humble will be exalted and vindicated! But it will all happen in God’s time!
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” (Paul, Romans 5.6)
By caring for the poor
One thing that’s absolutely clear in Scripture is that God cares for the poor, and the poor will be vindicated, in God’s time …
- “You shame the counsel of the poor, but the LORD is his refuge.” (Psalm 14.6)
- “All my bones shall say, ‘LORD, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?’” (Psalm 35.10)
- “For He will deliver the needy when he cries, The poor also, and him who has no helper. He will spare the poor and needy, and will save the souls of the needy.” (Psalm 72.12-13)
- “He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap.” (Psalm 113.7)
- “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors him has mercy on the needy.” (Proverbs 14.31)
- “He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and he will pay back what he has given.” (Proverbs 19.17)
- “He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses.” (Proverbs 28.27)
By sending a Suffering Savior instead of a Warrior King
Many of God’s people in ancient times expected the Messiah to be a warrior who would deliver them from their enemies. They certainly did not expect the Messiah to be born in the circumstances that he was. In fact, not much of Jesus’ like did people seem to expect. Instead of delivering them from their physical enemies, Jesus was delivered into the hands of his enemies and was crucified on the cross.
God’s kingdom is different! Instead of sending a warrior king to deliver his people from their enemies, he sent a suffering Savior to deliver us from our sin and death!
By setting up a different kind of Kingdom
Simply stated: God’s kingdom is not like the world, and the world is not like God’s kingdom!
Matthew 5.3–11 [NKJV] (The Beattitudes)
By keeping his promise to his people (to be merciful forever)
Mary said, God “promised our ancestors—Abraham and his children—to be merciful to them forever.”
That was the whole point of God sending his son …
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God.” (Jesus, John 3.16–18)
Earlier, I mentioned that John the Baptist was sent to prepare the Way of the Messiah, saying, “Repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand.” Just before Jesus left the earth to return to heaven, he said to his followers, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and you will be my witnesses …” (Acts 1.8)
May we be effective witnesses of Christ, and of his kingdom! May our lives demonstrate that God’s kingdom is radically different! And may God turn the world upside down through us!