Advent is a season that reminds us that we are living in the tension of a Kingdom that has already come in Christ Jesus, but has not fully come. One of my teens last night said, “That doesn’t make sense.” That’s absolutely true. It doesn’t make sense. It is not something that our minds can comprehend. But if Christmas teaching us anything, it is that God does not operate in ways we expect or really understand. I mean, the Israelites were expecting a King, triumphant on a throne and instead they received a baby in a manager, who died on a cross.
But we know the story did not end on the cross. It did not end in the tomb. It is hard for me to think about Christmas without thinking about Easter, because it is all so connected in my mind. We know that Christ conquered death. But the story is still not over.
There is still brokenness.
We see that when see hear about women getting beat up and raped by their boyfriends. We see that brokenness when we receive word that the weatherman on Channel 4 committed suicide.
It is like Thomas Noble writes:
So during Advent, Christians long for the coming of the kingdom or rule of God. We long for every wrong to be put right, for every tear to be dried, and for the new heaven and the new earth in which we shall live in our resurrection bodies, free forever from disease and death.
So has nothing changed? Are we no better off than ancient Israel at the time of Isaiah or those first-century Jewish people in the time of Jesus?
Of course, everything has changed! The Kingdom has come! It has already come in Jesus, Immanuel, “God with us.” The very Word or Son of God has already come. But He has come “veiled in flesh.” He has come incognito. The rule of God is present in Him, but like treasure hidden in a field, a seed sown in the earth, or a hidden pearl. It has not yet come in glory and power. That was because of God’s mercy. Had the Kingdom come in glory and judgment, we would all have been destroyed like a rotten old barn, riddled with woodworm, which had to be burned.
So God came incognito. He came hidden as a man hanging on a Roman gibbet in agony, facing ultimate despair. He came to take our condemnation that we might receive God’s forgiveness and share in His resurrection and eternal shalom. [source]