Before the birth of Jesus Christ, the prophets had laid out the hope of salvation and their words had built an expectation that the Messiah would come and bring salvation to a desperate world. Those who heard and understood the prophecies waited. In prayer, they called out, “O come, O come Emmanuel!”
This week we celebrate once again the fact the the Son of God did come and His name was called Emmanuel, “God with us.” Mary and Joseph were to name the newborn baby Jesus because it is He who would save His people from their sins. God answered the prayers of a people longing for relief, looking for redemption, but more than that, He simply kept His promise.
Many had abandoned all hope of a Messiah ever coming and so were not ready when He came, did not believe in Him even after the miraculous nature of His sinless life, sacrificial death and glorious resurrection and ascension. No expectations were disappointed among them because they had none. But a remnant of hopeful people still called out to the Lord for His promised Savior to come.
Although the expectation of His coming remained, sometimes the cry of the heart reflected a certain melancholy, a plaintive call from hearts still hoping but seeing little to sustain that hope. Faith won the day over sight and the reward was great when it was declared, “…I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
The promise was fulfilled and the people rejoiced!
Yet another promise should prompt us to raise our expectations. That is the promise that the Messiah is coming again! Throughout the New Testament, the promise of the return of Jesus Christ is announced in no uncertain terms. So why should we not add our voices to the chorus anticipating His first advent by crying out with joyful anticipation for His second coming? When Jesus spoke to John in Revelation, He told him that He would come quickly when He came, to which John responded, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”
How shall we then live until He returns? Each moment of every day should be lived in the glorious light of eternity, marking each opportunity as one more way to invest in what will last forever. The sure cure to a life caught in the temporal mundaneness of a worldly existence is to lift our eyes and see that Christ rules and reigns now in the lives of His own, and that one day He is coming again to rule and reign over all creation. As Paul stated it so eloquently in Philippians 2:9-11, “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Who among those who love Christ does not long for His appearing! Now it remains for us to call out, “O come, O Come Emmanuel–come, Lord Jesus” and establish your reign in us and all creation forever and ever! And until you come, we will live, empowered by His Spirit and captivated by His glory, as citizens of His eternal kingdom!
In the post accompanying this article, you will hear the sweet melody of that old carol, “O come, O come Emmanuel” offering our prayer for a fresh sense of expectation to grip our hearts!