11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. — Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)
You want it.
I want it.
Everybody wants it.
But what is it?
We often confuse hope for wishful thinking. But wishful thinking is just that…wishful, airy, and empty. It has no substance because it has no objective foundation. It’s just…wishy. The hope that Christmas gives is far greater than subjective wishful thinking. Christmas hope is the confidence that good things are coming in the future. This hope is firmly rooted and anchored in past events. Consequently, we hope for future events and realities because of past events. But what future events? What past events?
Titus 2 mentions a future event that all Christians wait for and hope in. That event is the second coming (or Advent) of Jesus Christ. Unlike his first Advent, his second coming will be characterized by glory (Titus 2:13). When King Jesus returns, he will consummate his Kingdom of perfect and everlasting joy and righteousness (Isaiah 9:7). In that day, Jesus will wipe away all of our tears and sin, suffering, sorrow, and death will be no more (Revelation 21:4). This is the world every human soul longs for.
But why should any of us believe in that future reality? Why, in the midst of a fallen and broken world that is devastated by sickness, war, oppression, and death, should we hope in a bright future? The answer to that is Christmas!
Christians believe that Jesus will come again to heal the entire world because he has already come in humility to bring us grace and salvation. Christmas is far more than just some nostalgic sentimental time of family, tradition, lights, and gifts. Christmas is about the first Advent of Christ.
Christ stepped down from his glorious heavenly throne and was born of the Virgin Mary and placed in manger (Luke 2:7). He was greeted by poor shepherds, not exactly the dignitaries you would expect for the birth of a king. He came, not to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:45). He came to bring salvation for his people by dying on the cross for their sins (Ephesians 1:7).
He came for you.
As we look back and consider the humility, love, and grace of Jesus’ first Advent at Christmas, we are given a solid and objective reason for the hope and the confidence that in his second Advent, Jesus will return and finish the good work which he purchased and started at Christmas. Jesus is the reason, foundation, and the object of our hope. This is the hope that Christmas gives.
Here at the dawn of Advent, we seek you, O Savior—object of our hope. Your radiance is transcendent and your holiness unmatched.
We confess that though we ought to hunger after our Redeemer,
we gorge ourselves on worldly passions.
One hand outstretched, reaching towards what the cross offers.
The other hand clinging:
To our lawlessness.
Lord, ease our rigid, white-knuckled grip on our old selves.
Knead your hope into our hearts like a healing salve.
You saw our depravity and yet came for us.
You saw us in our filth and yet loved us.
You saw our brokenness and yet called us your own.
You made yourself small so that we could be made yours.
Let everything we do declare that we are a people for your own possession. Messiah, shape our hearts to be zealous for good works. Ingrain in us the hope that is bought by your blood.
In a world that oft seems so bleak, let this hope be our rebel yell.
May it give us courage and bring us through even the darkest night.
Together we hope for promises fulfilled.
We hope for all things to be made new.
We hope for future glory.
Sustain this faith and purify us, O Benevolent Healer,
until the day when you’ve wiped every tear from our eyes.