For the next four Sundays we will prepare ourselves for Christmas. The coming of Christ is so important that we focus our attention on this great event in the life of the Church 4 weeks.
There are many symbols which remind us of the mighty God we serve. This morning we begin the lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath which serves as a reminder of Christ’s coming to redeem the world.
The candles remind us that Christ is the light of the world. The purple candles speak of his royalty and the one pink candle symbolizes our joy in Christ. The white candle in the center represents the divine nature of Christ. Each Sunday during Advent, we will light an additional candle as we anticipate celebrating the birth of Christ.
The wreath is covered with green branches which has been a symbol of everlasting life found only in the Lord Jesus. He said, (John 5:24) “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
The first candle which is the prophecy Candle. The birth of Christ was prophesied hundreds of years before he was born, and everything that was said was fulfilled.
The second Sunday of Advent, when we celebrate the coming of Christ. Last week we began lighting candles as a reminder that we are waiting for the second coming of our Lord. We lit the prophecy candle to remind us that the coming of Christ was predicted hundreds of years before his coming. (Light first candle.) He came the first time as a humble servant and endured the shameful painful death of the cross. It was awful. Now we are waiting for his second coming in power and glory. It will be wonderful.
The third Sunday we light the preparation candle which reminds us that at Christmas we must personally prepare a place in our hearts for the Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas is a time of personal preparation.
John the Baptist was God’s herald who prepared the way for the coming of Christ. He proclaimed a message of personal repentance. In Mat 3:2 the Bible says that John the Baptist preached “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” His message hit people right between the eyes. The message of John the Baptist was also predicted by the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'” He was God’s go ahead man telling the people that the Messiah was coming, and to prepare the way.
Many people are missing Advent and only celebrate the giving and receiving of gifts. There is great joy but they do not know why Christmas is so special.
We lit the Prophecy candle first to remind us of the Promise of His coming. He was promised hundreds of years before he came in the book of Isaiah who said that the Savior would bring light into the dark world.
Then we lit the Preparation candle last week to remind us of the coming of John the Baptist who announced the coming of the Messiah. He was the forerunner of the Savior who said, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” He tells us to turn from our sin and embrace the forgiveness of Christ. The third candle we light is the Shepherds candle. The angels told the shepherds about the birth of the Savior. That must have been really something to see. Shepherds are my kind of people.
That’s right. The Bible says that the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were afraid. The glory of the Lord is what distinguishes the Great God from us his creatures, and it was so bright and breathtaking that the shepherds shook in fear. It is an awesome thing to be in God’s presence. The fourth candle we light is the white candle in the middle of the wreath, the Christ candle. Last week we lit the Shepherds candle which reminds us that Jesus came into the world to save sinners. The week before we lit the Preparation candle which reminds us that we must repent of our sins to prepare God a place in our hearts.
The week before that we lit the Prophecy candle which reminds us that the birth of Christ was predicted hundreds of years before He was born. Every prediction was perfectly fulfilled. The Lord is faithful to his promise. This is the candle of Faith.
The Bible says believe on the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved. This reminds us that God gave us the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ on the first Christmas. The first step from the manger was to the cross of Bethlehem. He was the eternal Son of God who became flesh. This is called the incarnation, which comes from the Latin translation of John 1:14. “He became flesh” and dwelt with us. Christmas was a tremendous act of humiliation for Jesus. He took upon himself the form of a servant and became a man. Wow. How could God take upon himself human flesh. That’s right. We don’t understand how this happened but the Bible makes it very clear that God became man. The Bible says, “We beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten son of God full of grace and truth.”
What does that mean?
It means that when John the Apostle and everyone else looked into the face of Jesus they saw the Son of God. It is a wonderful truth that the Bible affirms. In Matthew 1:18 it says, “ This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.”
The birth of Jesus happened through the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit. That is what makes Jesus unique from all others. He alone is the Son of God, and is the one upon whom our faith rests. This is called the Virgin Birth.
My faith rests on Jesus. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and died for my sins on the cross. I will follow Him as my Savior and Lord.