Advent Reflections: Week 01

Advent Reflections: Week 01

Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the Prophet, Priest, & King

Christmas season is upon us! And it can easily end up being one of the busiest, most hectic times of the year. But if we deliberately fix our eyes on Jesus, the way he taught us to live, and the love he brought to the world, then Christmas truly can be the most wonderful time of the year!

As a church, we believe one of the best ways to stay focused on Jesus is to read the Bible and to apply its truth to our lives. So throughout the Advent Series series we will be providing weekly reflection material to stir you on in your faith and help you stay focused on the Coming King, Jesus.

The reflection material will come in two parts, Personal Reflections and Family Reflections. Download and print off the PDF below, or scroll down for digital versions. 

The Personal Reflection is geared toward anyone seeking to “stay on track” during Christmas, deepening their understanding of the Advent season and Jesus’ fulfilling of the prophecies about him in the Old Testament.

Download Personal Reflections

The Family Reflection is designed for parents to have a tool to engage with their kids in the Bible. It will draw on the key Bible verses and themes of the Advent Series to help parents teach these core truths to their families.

Download Family Reflections

Advent Week 01: Personal Reflection

I’d guess that the word “Christmas” carries a lot of meaning for you. Maybe it brings up great memories of time spent with family and friends, enjoying food and conversation, giving and receiving gifts with joy. Or maybe it reminds you of the brokenness of your family and upbringing. Either way, chances are high that you have some ingrained feelings about Christmas, what it’s about, and even whether or not you believe that Jesus was born in a manger, under a shiny star, with farm animals and angels as his audience.

 

In one of the boldest statements ever made about Jesus, first century philosopher and church planter, Paul, penned these words to a local church in Ephesus:

[God] has made known to us the secret of his purpose...his plan was to sum up the whole cosmos in the king—yes everything in heaven and on earth, in him. (Ephesians 1:9-10, The Kingdom New Testament)

And here’s what Paul is saying in those two short, powerful sentences: God’s plan is to sum up and wrap up and bind up everything in the universe under the authority and person of Jesus the King.

Anyone reading that today should naturally be shocked at the audacity of Paul—to claim that an all-knowing God with an all-encompassing, yet hidden, plan is going to “sum up” everything in a man who lived 2000 years ago in a pre-enlightened, pre-electric, pre-connected culture. It sounds like madness or at the least, it sounds exactly like the kind of thing that makes the story of Christmas a little unbelievable.

But have you ever wondered why we still celebrate Christmas? Is it just a cultural adaptation of an ancient worldview that some western societies allow to continue? Or is Christmas simply perpetuated by consumerism and capitalism—an excuse to spend massive loads of money in the name of “Christmas Cheer”?

Or is it that we have clung to this seemingly outdated festivity because deep down, we want it to mean something truly profound? Maybe we need it as a reminder that our lives aren’t just about us, even if it’s just once a year as we swipe our cards a few extra times in the Spirit of Christmas. 

The Ancient Jews in the time before Jesus held this worldview: that one day, God was going to set things right and he would do it through an incredibly special human being, one they called “The Messiah.” In fact, that was their widely held worldview because it was widely promised in their scriptures.

Consider Bible passages like Isaiah 61:1-2 & Psalm 110:5-6:

 

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.

The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations... 

These definitive promises of deliverance, restoration, and renewal were written on the expectant hearts of the Jewish people for centuries. So by the time of Jesus’ birth, people were eagerly expecting redemption in the form of political and social reform, and more specifically, military uprising. The times were dark, with the Roman Empire looming heavily over the customs and cultures it assimilated, and the Jews wanted a return to power, security, and the fullness of their former religious systems.

They awaited the long-foretold savior. The rescuer. A mighty leader who would come change everything. They knew that the world was not the way that it was supposed to be and they yearned for God to send the one who would finally do something about it.

And on one silent, holy night, God used the same miracle he’s used for thousands of years to bring new life into this world, the birth of a fragile, helpless human child. But with this birth came the dawn of redeeming grace. With this birth came Jesus. All wrapped up in his mother’s arms, bound in blankets, this little baby would grow up to become the one in whom everything, all creation, would be wrapped and bound up. The sum of God’s plan for us, a little baby born with the power to unite a Kingdom for God.

Personal Reflection Questions

  1. What has Christmas meant to you over the years? How was it celebrated (or not celebrated) in your home?

  2. Read Luke 2:1-21. This amazing proclamation about Jesus (“a savior is born unto you”) was made to a group of shepherds out in the countryside. It wasn’t proclaimed to rich, credible city leaders who could “do” something about it, in a sense. What does this say about the people God sent this savior to? What do you think he is trying to accomplish?

  3. Read Luke 4:16-21. In this story, Jesus takes an old Jewish scripture and applies it to himself in a Jewish synagogue in front of a group of Jews who believed this scripture was about the coming savior, the Messiah. What kinds of things is “The Messiah” sent to do in the passage Jesus reads? In your opinion, do they describe the work of Jesus during his public ministry? How might this prophecy about Jesus actually shape the life of someone who believes in him?

  4. Do you believe that Jesus is the savior? Why or why not? How does this affect your life and the way you live?

 


Advent Week 01: Family Reflection

Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the Prophet, Priest, & King

Passage(s): Isaiah 61:1-2, Luke 4:28-30

For hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, special writings pointed to Jesus coming over and over again. Many leaders that God used were just a sneak peek of what was to come in the Savior. God’s people watched for signs and were always wondering if their next best leader was the Messiah, the Special Person God promised would make their world right again. As they waited, they were so excited for the day Jesus would finally come!

Verse #1:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.

Isaiah 61:1-2

Question #1: Why do you think the Jewish people were so eager in waiting for the Savior to come?

(He was going to bring comfort to hurting people, he was going to help people that were sad, he was going to give freedom)

After hundreds of years of waiting, one quiet night in a little stable meant for barn animals, Mary gave birth to Jesus. Not many people knew how truly special Jesus was. But then angels appeared to a group of shepherds, telling about Jesus’ birth and rejoicing with all of Heaven! The angels told the shepherds where they could find Jesus, wrapped up all snugly in strips of cloth. As soon as the angels went back to Heaven, the shepherds set off to look for baby Jesus. They found the baby and praised God, because they knew how special this baby boy was!

But he didn’t stay a baby. Jesus grew up just like we do. Through all his growing up years, Jesus came to know his Father in Heaven very well. He spent time at church and loved talking to all kinds of people. One day, Jesus read from the book of Isaiah in front a large group of Jewish people. In fact, they were the same verses we read at the beginning of this page! The very same scripture that talked about the coming of Jesus. After he read it, Jesus told them, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

This meant that everything he read from the past had just come true. Jesus was powered by the Holy Spirit to share the Good News of God’s message and was living his life exactly how it was said he would in the book of Isaiah!

Question #2: How do you think the people felt when Jesus read the scripture from Isaiah?

(give space for kiddos to answer their true thoughts. Anything is welcome! I imagine they will be surprised to find out that the people grew very angry and did not accept Jesus)

Verse #2:

When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.

Luke 4:28-30

Question #3: How does it make you feel that people were so mean to Jesus when he explained about who he was and how everything said in the past had come true that day?

(Again, give space for kiddos to answer their true thoughts. Anything is welcome!)

As more and more people continued to hear about Jesus, others were very happy to hear that their Messiah had finally come. Today, Christ followers celebrate the exciting birth of our Savior by celebrating Christmas. He was everything the world needed then and he continues to be our everything today when we choose to follow Him.

Question #4: What can you do this Christmas season to show the people around you that Jesus cares about them? That you care about them?

(Refer to Isaiah 61:1-2 as a framework for a life lived to God’s glory since this was the way Jesus lived! Examples: share the Good News, comfort people that are hurting, share the joy of Christ’s birth with people that are sad. There are many other great ideas! Feel free to get creative as a family.)