Part One of a four-part series exploring the weeks of Advent: Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace.
“Advent” is a word that means “the arrival of something notable.” We could talk about the advent of television, the advent of space travel, or the advent of marketing technology that listens in on your every word and then generates social media ads based on the conversation you had in the kitchen five minutes earlier. At Christmas, we celebrate the advent of Christ, meaning His arrival on Earth in the little town of Bethlehem. For the next four weeks, we’ll be looking at what the advent of Christ means for mankind. This week, we look at how the coming of Christ brought hope. There are, of course, many ways in which Christ brings hope, but we will focus on just two, found in the following verses.
“But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel,’ which is translated ‘God is with us.’” (Matthew 1:20-23 CSB)
His Name Is Jesus
The advent of Christ brings hope to mankind because His name is Jesus. This name is derived from the Hebrew Yeshua and carries the meaning of deliverance, rescue, and salvation. The angel told Joseph to give Jesus this name specifically because He would save His people from their sins, and this name ties the manger to the cross. The advent of Christ brings hope for redemption from the curse of sin and hope for eternal life, but that hope was not fulfilled in the manger. While we celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas, we must remember the real reason for that birth. Ultimately, the baby was born to die. At the cross, we find the fulfillment of the hope spoken of in Matthew 1. Jesus is able and worthy to save His people from their sins because of His sacrifice. The promise made at His birth is made possible through His death. And while we set aside Easter to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ – the fulfillment of our hope – Christmas is the time to celebrate the dawning of that hope. At the birth of Christ, hope of salvation and reconciliation with God entered the world.
He Is Immanuel
The advent of Christ means hope for man because He is Immanuel, God with us. As discussed in another post (found here), Israel had seen the presence of God come to dwell among His people in Solomon’s temple. They had also seen that presence leave the temple after centuries of repeated disobedience to God. Though God continued to love His people and to speak to them through the prophets, He no longer dwelled with them. Even after the temple was rebuilt following the exile to Babylon, God’s presence did not return to it. However, after 400 years of silence between the Old and New Testaments, God returned to His people in the person of Christ. He was Immanuel – God with us. For 33 years, Christ dwelled among His people. When He left the earth, however, God’s presence did not leave for generations as it had before, but returned again in the form of the Holy Spirit. His presence continues to dwell among His people today through the Spirit, which lives in every believer. And while the advent of Immanuel was the fulfillment of the hope of Israel, that God would dwell with them again, it also foreshadows the completion of an even greater hope: that God’s people will live with Him eternally. In that day, when all the former things pass away and the new things come, He will again be Immanuel. God will be with His people, and His people, all those who place their faith and hope in Christ, will be with Him forever.
The Advent of Hope
As the Christmas season approaches, remember why the advent of Christ brings hope to mankind. He is the hope of salvation. He is the hope of reconciliation with God. He is the hope of eternal life in God’s presence. And all of these things are accomplished because the Son of God left Heaven and came to Earth as a child. He is Jesus, who will save His people from their sins, and He is Immanuel, God with us.