Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Christ and anticipate the Second Coming of Christ by observing Advent. The word “advent” is Latin for “coming” or “arrival” and it has a double meaning. We worship Christ for the fact that in His first coming He came in humility as the baby born in Bethlehem—the infinite God-Man in the flesh, our Emmanuel. Yet, we also wait for the “coming” of our King a second time when He returns to earth to rule and reign in righteousness and justice and make all things new.
Just as the Israelites in Egyptian bondage longed to be free from slavery and God provided a blood sacrifice through the Passover Lamb, we as pilgrims in this fallen world long for the day when we will be free from sin and live forever with our Lord. Advent is a time of longing, anticipation, repentance, and hope.
As we approach Christmas, may I encourage you to “long” and “anticipate” the Second Coming of Christ as you celebrate His first coming by reflecting upon the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. Matthew 5:1-4 states, “Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’”
Jesus is speaking specifically to believers in the Sermon on the Mount and as the King of the Kingdom, He is pronouncing these blessings upon those who have entered through repentance and faith. The word “Beatitude” is also Latin, and it means “blessed” or “congratulations to you”. It means that those who have been saved by God’s sovereign grace through salvation in Christ have every spiritual blessing as adopted children in His family. These are not natural personality traits, but supernatural attributes given to us by the Holy Spirit at conversion.
In the first Beatitude, Jesus blesses us by showing us what it means to be spiritually bankrupt. Being poor in spirit means that we have this overwhelming sense of our nothingness before Him and that we recognize that we are helpless and hopeless without Christ. The old hymn “Rock of Ages” captures this vividly when it states, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling.” We are spiritually impoverished in our sin and in desperate need of a Savior. And the promise from Jesus when we realize our bankruptcy is that we possess the kingdom of heaven.
In the second Beatitude, Jesus pronounces a blessing on those who mourn. Mourning means that we grieve over our own personal sin and all its ravaging affects. We express deep sorrow that we are spiritually bankrupt and that we have offended a holy God and that sin is a cosmic offense against our Creator. When we mourn over our sin and own up to it and confess it and repent from it, the promise from Jesus is that we will be comforted. We will receive the comfort of the gospel. Comfort in knowing that our sins have been forgiven. Comfort in knowing that we have the gift of the Holy Spirit. Comfort in knowing that the power and penalty of sin have been cancelled. Comfort in knowing that we will one day see our Jesus face to face in the new heavens and new earth. We discover that intense mourning results in incredible joy.
During this Advent season, have you experienced this acute awareness of your absolute nothingness before God by being poor in spirit? Have you mourned over your personal sin against God and sought comfort in the gospel of salvation and forgiveness of sins? As you celebrate the first coming of our Lord and wait in anticipation for His Second Coming, long for Him alone. Let these words of Jesus ring constantly in your ears this Christmas season: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30)