Published Christmas 2019
“I just can’t wait to open my presents!” Isn’t that the cry of kids (and some adults!) at Christmas? The anticipation of seeing secret wrapped presents under the tree is often even more exciting than actually finding out what is inside them! We wait with expectation, for weeks, to find out what we will get and to taste the delicious food we specially prepare.
Waiting is hard. Not for Christmas morning, maybe. But life is full of other waiting times; we wait for a diagnosis, for true love, to recover from an illness, to stop hurting, to have children, to get work or to retire.
We might pray for patience, but learning it is difficult. Especially in our “instant” age where almost everything is available at the press of a button from microwaved food and instant coffee, to almost any information and entertainment.
A recent study I read about had people wait alone in a room, without books or phones, for 15 minutes. Some of them got so bored that after six minutes they chose to give themselves electric shocks rather than have nothing to do!*
The Jewish people had been waiting a long time for their Messiah when, on the original Christmas morning, Jesus was born in Bethlehem. His birth had been foretold by the prophets for hundreds of years.
From the first time that humans disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and allowed sin to enter the world, God promised that a son of Man would crush the serpent’s head i.e. that evil would be ultimately defeated.
However, for the 400 years before Jesus’ birth there had been no word from the prophets, no new message to the people, just silence from God until John the Baptist came proclaiming, “there is One who comes after me whose sandal I am not fit to untie”.
Unfortunately, the Jews had such a fixed idea of what their Messiah would be like – a conquering king who would rescue them from the Romans – that they failed to see the gift that God had given them in the suffering Galilean who came to conquer the greater enemy of their sin.
Today, those who have embraced Jesus as the promised Christ (anointed one), are still waiting because when – after dying to pay for humanity’s sins and rising from the dead – He ascended to heaven, the angels promised He would return the same way.
This time Jesus will indeed be a conquering king who will establish His throne on earth and rule over all creation, putting an end to death and wickedness once and for all.
This second coming of Jesus has been eagerly awaited for nearly two thousand years now. No one knows when it will occur and many convincing predictions have been proved foolish. It is hard to wait in hope while disasters strike, evil increases and injustice goes unchecked. In fact the Bible says that not just people, but all creation groans waiting for the perfection of God’s rule to be restored.
So this Christmas morning, as you wait to open presents, wait for Christmas dinner to be ready or wait for your guests to leave so that you can take a nap – remember that God is waiting too. Waiting for us all to turn to Him and make Him our king, so that when He returns in bodily form to Earth, it will be to reward us and not to punish us, to give us the greatest gift of all – eternal life with Him.
“First, I want to remind you that in the last days there will come scoffers who will do every wrong they can think of and laugh at the truth. This will be their line of argument: ‘So Jesus promised to come back, did He? Then where is He? He’ll never come! Why, as far back as anyone can remember, everything has remained exactly as it was since the first day of creation.’
“They deliberately forget this fact: that God did destroy the world with a mighty flood long after He had made the heavens by the word of His command and had used the waters to form the earth and surround it. And God has commanded that the earth and the heavens be stored away for a great bonfire at the judgment day, when all ungodly men will perish.
“But don’t forget this, dear friends, that a day or a thousand years from now is like tomorrow to the Lord. He isn’t really being slow about His promised return, even though it sometimes seems that way. But He is waiting, for the good reason that He is not willing that any should perish, and He is giving more time for sinners to repent.” 2 Peter 3:3-9 (TLB)