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Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Immanuel Is Here!

by Dr. Michael Whiting

Today's Reading

Luke 2:1-20

The day has finally arrived. A day that has been in the making since Genesis 3:15. Adam and Eve hid in shame from the Lord in the Garden, but He came to find them and promised that what they had done would be undone. Why it took so long we will never know, but in God’s timing it was perfect: "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son …" (Galatians 4:4). 

All the promises, prophecies, types, and pointers throughout the Old Testament we have studied this season were looking to this day, reaching their fulfillment and culmination in the birth of this child.  

Here He was, God in their midst, coming for them, to be near to them: “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men” was the angels’ reprise to the shepherds that night. These were no ordinary shepherds, however, who received the only angelic invitation to visit the newborn Jesus. Likely, they were keeping watch over the flock of the Tower of Migdal Edar (Micah 4:8; cf. Gen. 35:21), the unblemished sheep that were raised and prepared for Temple use.

The most surprising thing about that night is that the birth of the Messiah, the Incarnation of Immanuel, did not occur with glorious spectacle and a royal festival but was concealed from most in obscurity and simplicity, the eternal One breaking meekly into time and history in an animal stable. But such humility would characterize the whole life of the Messiah and demonstrate perfect human obedience and submission to the Father.

Jesus would turn the ordinary idea of royalty and power on its head by a life of sacrificial giving rather than prideful taking. Ultimately, this righteous and innocent One would even accept a shameful death crucified between two criminals as the only way that sinners could be reconciled to God.

The death of a weak, battered body hanging on the cross became the very weapon in the hands of this King to conquer the ancient Enemy and make way for God’s dwelling with us and the renewing of the world: defeating pride with humility, injustice with compassion, and hatred with love.

This was the start of a new day for the world, of God’s dwelling with the people He made, the firstfruits of the hope of a new creation through faith in Jesus and new life in the Holy Spirit. Christmas is truly a time for celebration and rejoicing in the love God has for us.

Yet now is just a foretaste of what is still to come. We still wait when God’s dwelling with us becomes fully known in a new earth without sin, an eternal kingdom of peace and righteousness.

Lord, hasten that day, and may You find your people ready and faithful when the time comes to receive the inheritance that You have won for us to the praise of Your glory and grace.

That inheritance is You and your presence dwelling with us forever. Until then, what we celebrate as beginning at Christmas is also our ceaseless prayer for the future:  “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.” 

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