This week we begin our season of Advent, which is the Christian season of preparation for Christmas. Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate His first coming at Christmas. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “visit.” In the season with this name, we keep in mind both “advents” of Christ, the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come.
Our theme this year is “Hope of the Nations.” Traditionally in the Advent season we would focus on the topics of hope, peace, joy, love, and Christ, but as we think about Jesus Christ being the Hope of the Nations, this season we’re going to focus on the world-wide hope found in Jesus Christ. We’ll meditate on the ideas of light, life, liberty, love, and Lord.
This wekk, we focus on light. We read in Matthew 4:12-17:
12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee;
13 and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.
14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:
15 “THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI, BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES—
16 “THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.”
17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
This week we light the CANDLE OF LIGHT. The world is in spiritual darkness, but Jesus has come that all the world may have light. It’s so important to realize the geography of the Matthew text above. Jesus of the Jews ventured into the land that Isaiah called Galilee of the Gentiles. According to the Bible, the world is divided into two major people groups—the Jews and the Gentiles—and the light of the Jews didn’t just shine on the Jews. It has shone on the entire world, both Jews and Gentiles. It’s not just the Jews that God desires to see saved and reconciled. God desires the whole world—all tribes, tongues, nations, and peoples. And, that only happens through the light of Jesus Christ, who is the Hope of the Nations.
We who are in Jesus Christ have been given the light, and now we have the great opportunity and privilege to pass it on throughout the world of darkness. If you’ve not received the light, I invite you today to trust in Jesus Christ as your savior, that you may escape the spiritual darkness. And, for those who already have the light, may you shine the light of Jesus near and far, at home and abroad!