It’s a chaotic time in our world, to say the least. Globally, there is fear and confusion stemming from a virus that has blanketed our planet and treats everyone differently. Politically, there is distain and mistrust in our leaders, dividing us like never before.
During this most wonderful time of the year, it can be difficult to turn off the headlines and switch your mood to Bethlehem as you place the cradled Baby Jesus in your Nativity scene and set the shining star atop your tree. The tension has been mounting for nearly a year, but now we’ve got to find a way to balance the tension of today and the longing for a Silent Night.
We are in the season of Advent, which comes from the Latin word, adventus, meaning “coming”. We celebrate the long-suffering, waiting, weary world receiving its Messiah… Immanuel… God with Us. Two thousand years ago, our heart kinsmen were anticipating emancipation by a leader who was going to right every wrong, conquer the political injustice of the day, overthrow the religious elite and wipe the palace floors with rulers who had wronged God’s chosen people…. At least that’s how they translated Messianic prophesy.
And what did they get? A baby.
A helpless babe in swaddling clothes born in a barn among animals to a poor teenage girl and her carpenter husband. Make no mistake, a baby is to be celebrated and every birth is a miracle. Babies bring forth hope for what is to come and unlimited potential for the future. But the Jews’ needs were urgent. They weren’t looking for potential and future help. The Greek and Roman influences were wiping away the legacies of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with each horrific day. Watching Jesus grow in wisdom and stature is a nice thought for us, but it would have been an affront to people suffering in real time.
What audacity… sending a baby to the rescue. Audacity – with the gift of hindsight – can be applauded and cheered. But audacity before results can just seem… insulting.
How dare you?
Didn’t God know the Jews – the people He loved and chose – needed a mighty warrior who would come slaying and slashing, shattering and crashing? Was God even engaged in the needs of His people? Was He mad at them? Had He forgotten them? Didn’t He know they needed rescue NOW?
What kind of audacity does One have to send a baby to the rescue?
The same audacity that allowed David to bring rocks to a sword fight (1 Samuel 17:40-49).
The same audacity it takes to go against the mighty Midianite army with only 300 soldiers blowing trumpets and smashing jars (Judges 7).
The same audacity that drove Esther to set a dangerous plan in motion and quip, “And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).
The same audacity that 30-year-old Jesus exhibited when He stood up in the synagogue in Nazareth, His hometown, where everyone watched Him grow up and read from Isaiah 61:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
Because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Jesus then rolled up the scroll and said to all who were steadfastly watching him, “Today the scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:14-21) Mic drop. Talk about audacity.
The same audacity it took Jesus to walk His disciples through despised Samaria instead of around it (John 4:4).
The same audacity of the One who introduces Himself as I AM (Exodus 3:14).
We serve an audacious God. He dares to stack circumstances against Himself and then defy every barrier, bringing honor to His name. He seems to delight in audacity. But it is this willingness to take surprisingly bold risks that brings Him glory – because for Him, there are no risks at all. He does what only God can do. And every circumstance, every law, everything seen and unseen is beholden to His will.
God does not rescue in the most obvious ways. He is not obligated to our narrow imaginations. He shifts perspectives and paradigms to fulfill His plans – His holy and righteous plans. And so, when the world was in chaos and in need of a savior, God sent a baby. He came to us to be face-to-face in the flesh to look us in the eyes and tell us He loves us and He’s here to save us. He didn’t come with swords slashing as if to frighten us into submission. Instead, He came tenderly, softly in a package few can resist.
It is no secret that we need to be rescued right now. It’s no secret to us and certainly no secret to God. He sees us and He is for His children. He is on His throne and He is intervening in audacious ways this very minute. He has His eye on His children and His plans for us are risky but assured. But in the advent – in the waiting – for rescue we must keep our eyes on Jesus. There will be so many opportunities to numb, escape or turn to other gods as a pseudo-rescue, but don’t fall for it. Eyes on Jesus.
At the cradle and at the cross, there are no proud people. Only people on bended knee who recognize they are in need of a savior and have found Him. He came Himself, not leaving us to flounder or wonder how we are supposed to make it through this life. God sent a Rescue once and He’s sending Him again.
But this time, He’s not sending a baby.
Dear Lord, thank You for rescuing us. Thank You for reminding us throughout Your Word that You are for us and You will rescue with audacity that is beyond our wildest imagination. We don’t have to wonder if you will save us, You have and You will. We reject the hopelessness and desolation crouching at our doors and pray Your audacious will be done. Praise Your Holy Name. Amen.
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