Advent: Jesus coming to die

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

Advent is a time to reflect on why Jesus came. In a sense he did come to die, but more precisely, he came so that God might become King in a very down-to-earth way, and at the heart of that kingship and kingdom is death and resurrection.

This is why in liturgical churches: in churches of the Great Tradition, and in Protestant Reformed churches, the Lord’s Table, or the Eucharist (also called the Mass, and Holy Communion) is front and center, and the climax of every service. And this is also why the church alone is the political entity of lasting, eternal hope for the peace that the world’s governments will never and could never bring. That doesn’t mean world governments should simply fold tent and give up. Or that the United Nations should be dissolved. It simply means that the only unfailing, everlasting hope for the world is in King Jesus himself, and through his person as the God-human, and his work on the cross— death and resurrection. What the world needs has already begun in the church in and through Jesus– the good news of the gospel (which means, good news). That reality should and inevitably does to some extent spill out into the world and impact people and governments. But it can never be exported into some nation state or political party, so that the entity becomes something of God’s kingdom come in King Jesus. No, that can be found only in the church through the gospel.

And make no mistake: at the heart of that reality is Jesus’ suffering in his death, followed by his resurrection. Death and resurrection in and through Jesus is the necessary means to the end: God becoming King on earth, so that God’s will can be done here, as it is in heaven.

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