The Fourteenth Day of Advent
It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
As a boy I thought that Jesus was His first name, and Christ His last. Then I came to learn that Christ isn’t a name at all, but Jesus’ title: Jesus the Christ. Christ is the English transliteration of the Greek Christos, meaning “the anointed one”. In turn, Christos is the transliteration of the Hebrew Messiah, also meaning, “the anointed one”.
God’s prophets had long foretold the coming of the Messiah, God’s anointed one, sent by God on the mission of bringing salvation to the world (2 Samuel 22:50-51; Psalm 2:7-9; 18:49-50; 89:20-29). At Jesus’ birth the herald angel proclaimed the birth of God’s longed for Messiah: “…to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Today’s Scripture reveals Jesus on the Messianic mission of “bringing many children to glory”.
In eternity past, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit purposed to bring many to share in His glory. In the overflow of Their unbounded, superabundant love, They longed to impart Their divine life to you and me. Thus, the Son of God came down to lift us up; He penetrated our lost and hopeless condition to make us sharers in His very life and glory. American theologian C. Baxter Kruger vividly describes Jesus’ Messianic mission:
In no other religion do we have a god who stoops, a god who comes down to enter into human history in the most inconceivably personal way. But here in Christianity, we have a God who wants to be united with us and who is prepared to humble Himself and even to suffer to accomplish such a union. (C. Baxter Kruger, Jesus and the Undoing of Adam)
First century popular discussion debated what was fitting or appropriate for Deity to do. It today’s Scripture the Spirit of God says, “It was fitting that God…should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” God thought it fitting, or consistent with His character, to make Messiah Jesus, the “pioneer” of our salvation perfect through suffering. The word translated as “pioneer” (archegos) “…is one who begins something in order that others may enter into it…; he is the author of blessings into which others may also enter…one who blazes a trail for others to follow.” (William Barclay, Hebrews: Daily Study Bible) Here is a picture of a great procession of countless numbers gathered behind Jesus, moving behind Him on to the glory of God.
Jesus’ life is not that of a solitary, lone individual, but as Messiah He comes as God’s divinely appointed representative for us. The Bible repeatedly asserts that Jesus acts “for our sakes”, “in our place”, and “on our behalf”. In Jesus’ birth, we are born, in His death we die, in His resurrection we live, and in His ascension we are seated with Him at God’s right hand (Ephesians 2:4-6).
Remarkably today’s Scripture says that Jesus was made “perfect” for His role of pioneer of salvation, “through sufferings”. Jesus had to become one with us, and endure every anguish, torment, and pain that anyone has ever suffered! In order to save us Jesus had to take on our full humanity. But for His suffering to save us, He also had to be fully God.
This identification of God with humanity is the essence of the Christian idea of God. God’s humble coming down to us in Christ Jesus reveals, “God does not will to be God without us.” (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, IV/1) God will spare no expense to save us. He would rather suffer and die than live without you! The Incarnation of God tells us the most important truth about us: we are destined for glory!
- Why do you think God purposed to bring “many children to glory”?
- Theologian Karl Barth said, “God does not will to be God without us.” How would you say that to a child?
EMBODIED PRAYER: KNEELING
“When the wise men found the baby Jesus, they knelt down and paid him homage” (Matthew 2:11). Many times throughout Scripture and the life of the church we find people kneeling to express their thoughts and feelings. English theologian David Peterson describes the impact of kneeling as we pray:
…an expression of inferior status and subservience to another person. Sometimes this obeisance was an indication of gratitude and sometimes it was associated with supplication or entreaty. Whatever the situation it was a recognition of total dependence of one party on another for the provision of some need…Sometimes it was associated with an outburst of praise, but sometimes the gesture itself appears to have been sufficient to express the trust and gratitude of those concerned. (David Peterson, Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship)
Sometimes people kneel to pray:
- Eyes open
- Looking up
- Hands lifted upward
Sometimes people kneel to pray:
- Looking downward with eyes averted or closed
- Hands folded
Today and every day of the Second Week of Advent pray the Lord’s Prayer while kneeling.