Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Reflections on Advent: Luke 1:31-33

KEY TEXT: Luke 1:31-33 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." 

KEY THOT: As we enter into the season of Advent and meditate on the first coming of Christ, I will be following the YouVersion Bible Plan for Advent meditations, called "The King is Coming". In today's first reading (Luke 1:31-33), we find a full description of who this Christ is and what He came to do and to be. 

Below is a quick summary of the Christ of Christmas:

(1) his name is Jesus: He will save his people from their sins, for that is what the name "Jesus" means: "you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). Note that Jesus will save us from our sins, not save us in our sins. We have compromised with the spirit of this age if we believe that God's grace means we can be saved and still continue to sin.

(2) he will be great: This Jesus will not only be good, but He will be great. God's calling upon his Son is that He will be great, but his greatness comes out of his humble service, not from his title or position: "Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant" (Matthew 20:26). Jesus' greatness is a result of his adopting the position of a servant, not the "Boss".

(3) he is the Son of the Highest: He is not just another great human; He is divine, for his Father is not Joseph but the Creator-God and Father in heaven. Though a Son, he did not abuse his status and power but divested himself of his power to be a Servant.

(4) he will sit on David's throne: Though the Son of God, yet in his flesh he is descended from David. He is the Son of David who would sit on David's throne to rule as the Messiah-King. Though a Servant, He is also a King. He is our Servant-King. The heart of true royalty is our servant attitude.
(5) he will rule over Israel forever: He will reign over the "house of Jacob" which is another name for Israel. Implied in this reign of Christ is that Israel would be ultimately included in the Kingdom of God. The Replacement Theology that says that the Church will replace Israel ignores texts like this that says that Israel will not be replaced but reinstated into its rightful position as God's chosen people in God's final restoration. And Israel's reinstatement is "forever", implying that Israel will be part of the eternal Kingdom of God.

(6) his kingdom is eternal: Jesus came to sit on the "throne of his father David" which is primarily a reign over the Jewish nation. The exaltation of David's throne is intimately tied to the restoration of Israel. The Gentiles will be included but the Gentiles are not at the centre-stage of God's plan. Jesus came to save "his people" (Israel) from their sins. But we who are Gentiles are included in God's eternal kingdom because of Israel's rejection of Christ, leading to a temporary blindness in order that our inclusion may provoke Israel to jealousy and ultimately leads to their reinstatement into God's eternal kingdom through Christ.

As we meditate on Christ's Advent (coming), remember he came for Israel primarily. And it was only through Israel (Abraham's descendants), that "all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:3). We who are Gentiles must remain grateful and humble and not become arrogant and adopt a condescending attitude towards Israel.

Abba-Father, we thank You that Jesus came to save His people Israel from their sins so that He may sit on David's throne to rule over Israel. And through Israel, the Gentiles will be included. Amen.

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