We just ended the Christmas season, also known as “Advent” and in this time we looked at what Christ accomplished by coming to this earth to be born as a baby. I have just one question for you: “What does Advent truly mean in your life?” This is a question I want to hash out with you now.
Advent means “arrival” or “appearance” and was used to describe the arrival of an important person, thing, or event. For those who follow Jesus, Advent is a celebration of his birth. I want to make sure we didn’t miss what Advent means in the busyness of the Christmas season. Before we look at a piece of Advent, I want to make sure we are all on the same page. We have to start with everyone on the same level and with the same idea in mind, because if we don’t, we will be at a loss when we talk about what Jesus did for us when he came to this earth. Here’s the idea we all need to start with: Your life stinks.
This idea is not a knock on you because I’m sure you’re a great person, but you have to use the lenses of a holy and righteous God. If your life didn’t stink, God wouldn’t need to send his perfect Son Jesus Christ to die for you. When I say “Your life stinks”, I’m not talking about a literal smell, but the impact sin causes on every person, myself included.
Here’s what we need to understand: on one hand, we have God who is holy and righteous. That means he is perfect in every way. He’s a loving God, but above all, God is holy. God’s love comes because he is holy. God’s grace comes because he is holy. God is perfect in every way—which makes him holy. There is no sin in God at all. We, on the other hand, are not so perfect despite our sometimes preconceived notions. We have lied, we have stolen things, we have held hatred in our hearts, we have sinned, and because of that, our sin separates us from him.
This is good news for us because this is where the Gospel comes in. Since God is holy and we are not, that relieves a lot of weight from our shoulders of notions that we need to be “good enough” or reach a certain “holy score” to reach heaven. I know many of you have heard this a thousand different ways and you’ve heard the Gospel a thousand times, but this good news never grows old.
I want you to take a moment right now and read Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12.
A guy named Augustine from about 1,500 years ago called this passage “a gospel” because of how in line it is with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Here’s something interesting about this text from Isaiah: it’s in the Old Testament. The Bible is broken down into two testaments—the old and new. The Old Testament is everything before Jesus’ birth, so the creation of all things, how God worked with his people Israel, and many other things. The New Testament is about how God showed his love for us through his Son Jesus Christ. The fact that we have what we just read in the Old Testament is a little scandalous. It’s not really scandalous to us, but to the Jews, it was pretty shocking. The Jews believe that God is going to send a Messiah one day, but they don’t believe Jesus was it. Jews have access to the book of Isaiah, but do not have access to the text we read from Isaiah. The text we read from talks of this coming Messiah and how he will be “pierced for our transgressions.” Psalm 22:16 says, “For Dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hand and feet…” What makes these two texts interesting is the fact that crucifixion wasn’t invented yet.
The text in Isaiah we read is scandalous for several reasons, but I think the biggest reason why this text is so shocking is because someone perfect died for those who messed up. The hero dies for the villain.
I tell you that your life stinks not to upset you, but to show you the great lengths at which God would go to show how much he truly loves you. We all know that we have messed up—it’s no surprise to anyone—but even though this is the case: God loves you despite you.
God loves you right now. We get into this mindset that God is going to love some future version of us when we have our stuff together, but he loves us right now. I shared this fact with over 50 high schoolers a few weeks ago and you wouldn’t believe how many didn’t know this truth. We think God has his fingers crossed just waiting for us to get our act together, but the fact is that Jesus did that for us. If we had to get our act together for God to love us, then there would be no need for Jesus’ death. But Jesus did die, which means God loves us despite us. That’s good news for us.
Here’s what God did for us: he gave us the love we didn’t deserve because he loved us in spite of our failures. God knew that we couldn’t do anything to make up for our sins, so he sent Jesus. God knew Jesus was going to die—that wasn’t a surprise to him. He wasn’t sitting in heaven going, “You know…I didn’t see that one coming!” God knew that we would love Jesus in one moment and kill him in the next. God knew the odds were stacked against Jesus, but he sent him because that was the only way we could have eternal life with him.
Jesus took up our pain and took on our suffering. Jesus was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brings us peace was on Jesus and by his wounds, we are healed.
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 // Psalm 22:16 // Romans 5:8 // Galatians 2:20