O come, O come, Emanuel
Since the first humans were exiled from Eden, we’ve been waiting for Messiah. Yet, when Jesus came, only a handful of Judean shepherds and three Gentile wise men welcomed His much anticipated arrival. Other than that, His entry went pretty much unnoticed. John wrote, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:10-11, NIV). “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God . . .” (John 1:12 NIV).
Then, the promised, resurrected Messiah, left His followers standing open-mouthed on a hillside, watching Him ascend. . . leaving them again with a promise of His return to unite them to Him forever. And so it began again. The watching. The waiting. And like the exiles from Eden, and in Babylon, or during the days of the Roman occupation, here we wait centuries later. As the bride who eagerly anticipates her wedding day, we yearn for the day of His for His Second Coming.
We are standing on the edge of eternity, perhaps as the last-century Church. Waiting. Watching for the promise of Emmanuel to come and ransom captive Israel. How do we wait?
Mark, who ministered with the apostle Peter, shares an insight with us of the experience the disciples had in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night Jesus was arrested. His purpose for coming to earth was about to culminate in His suffering on the cross. So prior to the soldiers’ arrival, Jesus asked His disciples to wait and watch while He prayed a little distance away from them. But when Jesus returned from agonizing prayer, He found the disciples asleep, “’Simon,’” he said to Peter, ‘are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation’” (Mark 14:37-38).
Years later, perhaps remembering Jesus’ warning in Gethsemane, Peter admonished the first-century Christians: “The end of all things is near. Therefore, be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray” (1 Peter 4:7). We have so much in common with those first century believers. The world is looking to stamp out Christianity. Our brothers in the Middle East, and in many parts of the world face brutal persecution. Who would have thought that in the 21st Century we would be witnessing imprisonments, crucifixions, burnings, and beheadings of Christians? Who would have thought that in the Western hemisphere there would be the cultural war on Christianity? Who would have thought that within the church itself the cultural war and apathy eats away at our very faith?
Jesus and Peter saw it. Peter warned us to watch and remain sober. Stay rooted in God’s Word. Keep alert so you can pray! Jesus posed the question, “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith left on earth?” But Jesus also promised, “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. (Mark 13:26-27). The question is, will He find us equipped, vigilant, and ready! Even so, Lord Jesus, come!
Former Salvation Army Officer