Sunday, December 3, 2017

Advent 2017 #3: Preparing for Transformation



My reading today began in Isaiah 4 and wham. I've read this chapter dozens of times, but I saw something in a new way.

The Isaiah 53 prophecy described Jesus as "like a root out of parched ground." He had no stately majesty. He looked nothing like a king. His appearance didn't attract people to Himself. He was despised, rejected, and forsaken. Before His work was done, He was pierced, crushed, scourged, oppressed, and afflicted. 

When Jesus walked our dusty streets, most people rejected Him. He didn't look like the king they'd expected, so even the Jewish leaders wanted nothing to do with Him. 

Jesus, Isaiah wrote, endured it all for us. 

He took our transgressions, our iniquities, and our chastening. The stripes from the beatings He endured brought healing to us. He paid the penalty for our sin, and nothing about the process was beautiful.  

When He was wrapped in flesh, Jesus looked nothing like Himself. One day, though, we'll see Him in a new way, because we'll see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2)

When the apostle John saw his magnificent, resurrected appearance, he fainted. Jesus was that beautiful. Snowy white hair, flaming eyes, glowing feet, voice like a waterfall. (Rev. 1:13-15)

In the last days, all the ugliness Jesus accepted on earth will be gone. When He comes back, He won't be despised, rejected, forsaken, or beaten. He'll be beautiful and glorious (Is. 4:2) Every knee will bow to Him. (Phil. 2:10) 

It's amazing enough to see Jesus as He truly is, but what's even more amazing is we'll become like Him. We'll have the beauty of purity that comes only from repentance and surrender to our King, who washes us white as snow. 

The preparation of Advent isn't accomplished by stringing lights on a tree or putting greenery on a door. It's not completed by brightly wrapped packages under the tree. There's nothing inherently wrong about decorations, but they don't accomplish what's most important. 

The season's work is done with repentant and humble hearts. As we begin the first Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Hope, may we embrace the season in a way that honors Christ and makes us more like Him. 

May our expectation be more Christ and less self as we celebrate His arrival and prepare for the Second Coming of our King. 

"In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious..." Isaiah 4:2 nasb
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