Advent Week Two: Prepare
Advent Week Two – Prepare
The excitement is building as you prepare for Christmas. The decorations are all around, the community lit up with strands of lights on many of the houses. Festive music is playing in stores and gatherings. There are events to attend each weekend. Wrapped presents are beginning to pile under the tree.
The preparations take quite a while. Even though it can be a bit stressful, you can’t resist getting excited about it all. It’s dedicated time to spend with loved ones. It’s a moment each year where you can set focused time on Jesus, anticipating and celebrating the Saviour’s birth.
The Lord took thousands of years to prepare and wait for the right moment to come to the earth as your Messiah. He gave prophets many messages to share of His coming arrival so that His people could prepare themselves.
As you read last week, He announced through the prophet Micah that He would arrive in Bethlehem. He would be born of a virgin. He would come as a prophet, priest, and king. He would shepherd His people. They had to pray, wait expectantly, and look for the fulfillments of the prophecies.
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.
3 A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
Prepare the way for the Lord;
make his paths straight!” Mark 1:1-3
As soon as the 400 years of silence ended, prophecies, signs, and wonders sprang up all around. The priest Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth received a prophecy that they would have a son who would announce the coming of the Messiah. Then the angel made Zechariah mute until the birth of his son came and he named him John.
Elizabeth’s cousin Mary, a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit, gave birth to baby Jesus in Bethlehem. An angel visited Mary and her betrothed husband, Joseph, to announce the coming of the Messiah through Mary. They encountered people prophesying over the baby Jesus in the temple when they brought Him to be dedicated before the Lord.
One prophecy after another was fulfilled as Jesus grew up, conquered sin and death, and rose again.
Though He conquered sin and death, the world wasn’t over. He finished phase one, but phase two is still coming. Therefore, our preparation isn’t over either. Before Jesus’ ascension back to heaven, He announced to His disciples that He will come again.
“If anyone tells you then, ‘See, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Over here!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 Take note: I have told you in advance. 26 So if they tell you, ‘See, he’s in the wilderness!’ don’t go out; or, ‘See, he’s in the storerooms!’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
“Now concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels of heaven nor the Son —except the Father alone. 37 As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 38 For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. 39 They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. This is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding grain with a hand mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this: If the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming, he would have stayed alert and not let his house be broken into. 44 This is why you are also to be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Matthew 24:23-27, 36-44
There should be a bit of fear within you when it comes to this knowledge. Not fear in an evil way, but a reverence for the all-knowing God. As a Christian, you should be filled with joyful anticipation, like a child getting excited for Christmas – with awe and wonder. The Lord best describes your preparation as one like a bride awaiting her wedding feast.
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they didn’t take oil with them; 4 but the wise ones took oil in their flasks with their lamps. 5 When the groom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “In the middle of the night there was a shout: ‘Here’s the groom! Come out to meet him.’
7 “Then all the virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’
9 “The wise ones answered, ‘No, there won’t be enough for us and for you. Go instead to those who sell oil, and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “When they had gone to buy some, the groom arrived, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet, and the door was shut. 11 Later the rest of the virgins also came and said, ‘Master, master, open up for us!’
12 “He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you!’
13 “Therefore be alert, because you don’t know either the day or the hour.” Matthew 25:1-13
Jesus’ warning in this parable is to know Him. You need a relationship with Jesus to enter heaven one day. It isn’t based on how good of a person you are, or how much money or status you have. It’s about humbly admitting you’re a sinner, believing Jesus’ story of His miraculous birth, life, death, and resurrection, His supreme Godhead, and His gift of salvation to you. Then it is about choosing to have a relationship with Him for the rest of your life.
Like the wise virgins, this isn’t a time to become lazy. A wedding takes a lot of work to prepare for. You can’t sit around and just expect a groom, food, flowers, gowns, suits, guests, and a pastor to show up. You need to prepare yourself in many ways for this special day, both internally and externally.
You need to prepare your holistic self for marriage. That’s why couples do premarital counselling. Getting married is the most important decision you’ll make in your life apart from salvation. You will be choosing to partner with this person for potentially the rest of your life on earth. It isn’t supposed to be a flippant decision you commit to unprepared. So, you need to learn how to serve your husband and honour him well.
Then there’s the actual physical preparations for the wedding. There are daily things you need to do before the special day because there’s so many details that go into it.
Like a wedding, you as a Christian must be constantly preparing for your Groom to come for you. You can’t, “Run out of oil.” You need to be consistently studying about your Love and growing in that relationship with Him so when that day comes, you’ll be prepared for the exciting event awaiting you.
“Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying,
Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty,
7 Let us be glad, rejoice, and give him glory,
because the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has prepared herself.
8 She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure.
For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints.
9 Then he said to me, “Write: Blessed are those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb!” He also said to me, “These words of God are true.” Revelation 19:6-9
What a day that’ll be to hear that the, “Marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has prepared herself.” Do you want to be found faithful to Him on that day? To rejoice and celebrate with pure exaltation of your Groom?
As you prepare for Christmas, here are some things to think about:
- While wrapping presents, think about the gift of salvation Jesus has given you and the marriage awaiting you.
- While dressing for special gatherings and events, think of the beautiful gown of righteousness you’ll wear before your Groom at the marriage feast – bright and pure
- As you prepare Christmas dinner, ponder the marriage feast you’ll take part of in heaven
- Gathering around the table to celebrate with family on Christmas, think about the family of God you’ll have the privilege of communing with for all of eternity
- As your heart fills with love and gratitude this Christmas for all Jesus has done, let it fill to overflowing at the thought of the amazing experience it’ll be to stand face-to-face with your Messiah, Your Groom, Jesus Christ one day in heaven, and for the rest of eternity.
“Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”
7 “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:6-7