Today is the First Sunday in Advent. It’s the first Sunday of the Church’s year. It’s the season where we prepare spiritually for celebrating the coming of the Jesus at Christmas. In the spirit of Advent, the title for our sermon series is “All I Want for Christmas is Jesus.” In a season of so many disappointments, we need to remember all we truly need and all truly desire in this life is found in Jesus. We will be looking at different scriptures from the lectionary to focus on Jesus.
The Bible passage we are looking at today, 1 Cor 1:3-9, begins with a letter of thanksgiving. The apostle Paul was writing to the Church of God in Corinth. This is a church that Paul will go on to convict for being divided, for abusing spiritual gifts, for tolerating sexual immorality in their church, for their arrogance in disregarding the Apostle Paul, for taking each other to court, for insisting on their own freedoms, and for disregarding each other at the Lord’s Supper. If the year 2020 was a church, it would be the church in Corinth. The church in Corinth is known as one Paul’s most problematic churches. It doesn’t seem like Paul would be filled with thanksgiving and gratitude for this church.
Yet Paul begins his letter this way:
“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.”
No matter what’s going on in this church, Paul has reason to thank God for them. Because bottom-line, they have received the grace of God in Christ Jesus and because of that, there is tremendous hope.
In Advent, how do we find the hope of Christ we need?
We remember the grace we received at Jesus’ first coming.
“4 I always thank my God for you because of the grace of God given to you in Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in him in every way, in all speech and all knowledge. 6 In this way, the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you, 7 so that you do not lack any spiritual gift”
We thank God for his grace. We remember that we don’t deserve it. We could never earn it. If we tried to earn it, we would fall short because of our sins. No, our sins separated us from a holy God. Without the gift of Jesus, we would have no hope, no mercy, no reconciliation, no eternal life. But God was pleased to send his son to an undeserving world, so that we can be united to himself forever.
What grace God has lavished on us in Jesus. But there’s more.
5 that you were enriched in him in every way, in all speech and all knowledge.
This was a church known for powerful spiritual gifts of prophecy, knowledge, tongues and more. Some of which were misused. But Paul does not lose sight of the fact that the origin of all these gifts were God himself. They are not to be feared nor rejected, but we are to give thanks for God’s gracious provision of the way His Spirit powerfully gifts us. Jesus’ first coming paved the way of the age of Holy Spirit, for which we should be incredibly grateful.
We eagerly wait for Jesus to come again to redeem the world.
“eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” – 1 Cor 1:7
The coming of Jesus into the world, his death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven was never thought by the early Christians to be something that just happened in time, in the past, as a one-off event. It was something that made a dramatic claim about the future for which they waited eagerly.
Our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ- Phil 3:20
For we eagerly await through the Spirit, by faith, the hope of righteousness- Gal 5:5
Rom 8:25 Now if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.”
The coming of Jesus meant something great in the future was going to happen.
We live in light of Jesus’ second coming.
Because of Jesus’ first coming, we now live with his second coming in our sights.
What’s your finish line?
1 Cor 1:8
“He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In the OT, the Day of Yahweh, the Day of the Lord, was the day the Lord was going to bring judgment, and put all things right. In the NT, this is theologically transformed into the Day of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
“He will come again to judge the living and the dead”
That’s the finish line.
Most of us live with the wrong finish line
It starts wrong. I just can’t wait until I get to high school. Ugh. High schoolers are dumb. I can’t wait until I get out of here and go to college.
I can’t wait until I just start my career so I can make money. I can’t wait until get married and have a family. I can’t wait until my kids aren’t so little and demanding any more. I can’t until we’re empty nesters again.
I can’t wait until retire and can enjoy my life.
I can’t wait until I get this degree, or this job, or make this much money. Etc.
The finish line is always moving. So you’re never happy, you’re never content, you’re never successful, and ultimately you get focused on things that only last in this life.
Your eyes are on the wrong finish line.
We trust that God will strengthen us to endure to the end.
8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
You’re not running alone. God will keep you firm to the end.
Things may feel unmanageable right now. But beloved, don’t give up. God is with you and will sustain you to the end.
You’re going to make it. You will endure. You will persevere. In and through Jesus, you will get through is. We will get through this. We’re going to make it through Covid, we’re going to make it until Jesus comes back.
- We look back at the grace we received at Jesus’ first coming.
- We long for Jesus to come again to redeem the world.
- We live in light of Jesus’ second coming.
- We lean on Jesus’ strength and faithfulness to endure to the end.
These truths give us hope.
This series and this season, let’s take seriously the idea that: All I want for Christmas is Jesus.
In the first 10 verses of 1 Corinthians, Paul mentions Jesus’ name 9 times, and Christ, Lord 1 other time each. In 10 verses, Jesus is referred to 11 times, 9 by name directly.
Paul is obsessed with Jesus. This is the man who went fro persecuting Christians to saying: To live is Christ, to die is gain. He grasped how amazing Jesus really is. May we grasp the same vision of how great Jesus really is and how magnificent his love and grace are.
May your prayer be “All I want for Christmas is Jesus” and may this fill you with hope.