November 28 - December 31, 2021
During Christmas we are often left longing for more. This is not only our personal experience, but the story of the whole world. The story of Christmas reminds us that God came to fulfill our deepest longings. In this advent series, we'll explore how Jesus is not only the fulfillment of Israel’s hopes and dreams but the fulfillment of our deepest longings and desires. (In this season we come to Christ — who was the fulfillment — to become our fulfillment. It’s a double fulfillment.)
The promise of God being with us is the goal toward which the whole universe is moving (Rev. 21:3). We could describe the scene from the book of Revelation - what it will be like when the kingdom of this world becomes the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. But in order for God to be with us, God first had to die for us in order to bring us into right relationship with himself. Then God had to dwell in us to transform us so that we would be suitable for the kingdom of God. Possible outline might be: God for us, God in us, God with us. It's a picture of the hope that is available for all of us at Christmas. God will be with us, whatever we're going through. Even to the end of the age and for all eternity.
We live in a world that is profoundly divided. Jews and Arabs, North and South Korea, blacks and whites, Republicans and Democrats, etc. We have divisions within our own families and we ourselves lack inner peace. We have lots of human ways to find peace, tranquilizers, therapy, medication, etc. Ephesians 2 tells us that Christ is our peace. He's not just our peace, he came to make peace. He also preached peace. The text also tellsus how we can discover peace.
We are walked through the gospel of Mark as we explore how people are progressively transformed (converted) as they discover who Jesus really is. Although the demons know Jesus' true Identity, and God the Father knows who Jesus is, human beings in Mark's gospel get more and more light regarding his identity.
The name "Jesus" means savior. What do we mean by Savior? The text 52:13-53:12 is quoted more often in the NT than any other OT text. It was a deep understanding of Is 53 that formed the apostolic understanding of what Jesus came to do. What salvation means - to be set free - redemption is at the heart of salvation. Most of us are not free, and we don't know how to get there. Salvation is not a word we usually use, but we do use Freedom. Personal liberation - I don't have to be bound.
Jesus came to be a servant (Phil. 2:5-11). Many people think that this text means "despite the fact that Jesus was God, he was willing to take on the form of a servant." That wasn't what Paul meant by using the term "being in the very nature God". Rather, Paul is saying because was Jesus in the very nature of God he became a servant. In other words, it's in the very nature of God to serve. So Christ took on the form of a servant. In John 13, the disciples are unwilling to be servants. We are called to serve and we'll find our fulfillment in discovering our calling as servants. (Servant songs in Isaiah: Is 53 is most quoted OT text in NT; shaped their whole understanding of ministry to Christ. Phil 2: highlight 'because' vs 'despite' - it is the nature of God to serve... we find fulfillment as we bear his image as servants.