“Behold, A Savior is Born”

Christmas Eve Service

“Waiting Again”

Scripture: Revelation 1:7; “Look, he is coming with the clouds,”[a]

    and “every eye will see him,

even those who pierced him”;

    and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”[b]

Think: One day Jesus will return as our Savior King.
Feel: When Jesus comes again, He will make all things right. 

Do: Trust that God is working in your waiting.

Merry Christmas, everyone! The night we have all been waiting for has finally arrived. All the decorating, all the preparations, all the shopping; Everything has led up to this moment. Even with all the hustle and bustle, don’t let them distract you from what is most important today. 

The world around us would have us believe that Christmas is just about the festivities and the lights without paying attention to the greater truth behind it all. Christmas Eve has finally come and as we gather, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. He is the true reason we are here. His arrival on the earth ushered in God’s hope, love, joy, and peace.

When I was a kid, I really struggled waiting for Christmas to come each year. When December rolled around, the days seemed to just tick by so slowly. One of my earliest holiday memories was constructing a paper Advent chain. Maybe you remember these too. You would take individual thin strips of red and green construction paper and glue the ends together, one onto another, to form a long chain. We would hang it in our kitchen and each day leading up to Christmas Eve, you would break one of the chain pieces to represent being one day closer to Christmas. 

It was exciting to watch the chain get shorter and shorter, smaller and smaller, until this day finally arrived. The hard part was the waiting. It felt like it took forever, and if I’m honest, it felt like a waste of time.

Who here can relate to my youthful impatience? Yes. All of us. And because of that fact, we have a small picture of what God’s people went through before Jesus was born. The Old Testament is full of prophetic words about a coming Messiah, one who would arrive in the future to save God’s people from their sins and free them from oppression. These promises were read over and over again. They were spoken as a reminder that God had not forgotten about His people. The book of Psalms contains many poetic laments about how long the people had waited for God to come through, and songs imploring God to remember his promises. Like tearing little paper chains each day, they waited.

As we read through the Old Testament scriptures, we find that though it may have seemed to Israel their God had forgotten about them, we know that He was working in them and through them the whole time. He was teaching them to rely on Him in the wilderness. He was forming them into faithful people in the temple. He was building them into a great nation from which the good news of Christ’s birth would come.

God is always up to something.

The New Testament begins with the long-awaited incarnation of God. Over a thousand years had gone by. Mary gives birth to Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem. She wraps him in cloth and lays him in a manger, just as the prophets had foretold. The wait was finally over. Jesus grew into a man and was faithful to God during his years of ministry. He was obedient even to death on a cross. After his death, he was laid in a tomb, and for three days the world held its breath. And then, Jesus was resurrected from the dead. He appeared to his disciples and promised that though he was going to go to heaven to be with God, he would one day return. The final moments that Jesus was with his disciples before he ascended into heaven are captured in Acts chapter 1. The Scripture read during the lighting of the Christ candle said that just like that, Jesus was gone. The disciples stared into the sky, wondering what to do next. The Bible says that an angel speaks to them and asks them why they are looking into the sky. It is as if the angel is telling them, “There is work to be done”. Stop staring into the sky – there are hurting people who need the hope of the resurrection, get moving. The angel says that Jesus will return one day just as he left. This began a new season of waiting. Granted God has already more than doubled the waiting time as it has been over 2000 years since He ascended. 

However, Biblical prophecy still provides some of the greatest encouragement and hope available to us today. Just as the Old Testament is saturated with prophecies concerning Christ’s first advent, so both Testaments are filled with references to the second coming of Christ. One scholar has estimated that there are 1,845 references to Christ’s second coming in the Old Testament, where 17 books give it prominence. In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the second advent of Christ–an amazing 1 out of every 30 verses. Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ’s first advent, there are 8 which look forward to His second! (Today in the Word, April, 1989, p. 27.)

Tonight, I want to remind you that one day, Jesus is coming back. He will return to defeat sin once and for all and to restore his creation to perfection. 

When he arrives, there will be no more sorrow, no more pain, no more wars, and no more death. But can we just agree that waiting is not easy? I know I would love to see these future promises become a reality now, but God knows what He’s doing.

God is working in our waiting, even though we may not see it. We cannot just sit around staring into the sky and counting down the minutes for Jesus to return. The good news of Jesus needs to be shared in word and deed. When we spend our time actively waiting, God will shape us and mold us into the people he wants us to be. The years of waiting won’t be wasted.

Though the first advent took place in a small town called Bethlehem, with an audience of shepherds and farm animals, the second advent will be something that cannot be missed. 

Jesus’ birth marked a humble beginning, but his return will be on display for the world to see. Revelation 1:7 reads,

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,”

    and “every eye will see him,

even those who pierced him”;

    and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”

So shall it be! Amen.

Every eye will see him. No one will miss his triumphant appearance.

The Book of Revelations tells us a little bit about what we can expect with Christ’s return. However, we do not know the day or the hour. We can’t mark it on our calendars or tear a piece from our advent chain until zero. It is a mystery that is only known to the Father. What this means is that we must live each day as if it could be today. 

When Jesus returns, Revelation says that the peoples of the earth will be in mourning. They will mourn, because Jesus came the first time as Savior, but he will come the second time as judge. We must live ready, because in the end we will all give an account for our life. We will be judged on what we did with the grace and mercy offered to us on the cross when Jesus died. Did we believe and receive His gift of love, or did we reject his offer?

When something takes too long, we are always tempted to throw in the towel, aren’t we? Whether it is standing in the line at the DMV, waiting for a pot of water to boil, or counting down the hours until we get to open presents. When things take too long, we grow weary. Friends, today I want to encourage you to remain faithful, continue to endure, and don’t give up the fight.

The book of Hebrews was written by an unknown author to a young Church who was tempted to give up on their faith in Christ. Over and over, the author implores his listeners to remain steadfast in order to receive the blessed rest of God that was promised long ago, Hebrews 9:28

so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

The author speaks to the second appearance of Jesus in the future as a way of encouraging his readers. He tells them that when Jesus appears the second time, it will not be to deal with our sin. He has already done that. When He returns it will be to save those who are eagerly anticipating the second advent. 

It begs the question: 

Are you eagerly waiting for Jesus to come again? 

Does it ever cross your mind? 

Do you live as if it is true and imminent? 

For the Christians who believe that Jesus will return for His Church one day, this should impact how they live day to day.

I recently read a quote by Oswald J. Smith, and it has given me a new way of thinking about the good news of Christmas. He said, “We talk of the second coming, half the world has never heard of the first.” While we sing our festive hymns together tonight and celebrate the saving grace that was given to us through the birth of Jesus, we must remember that there may be people just down the road from us who have never heard that God sent His Son because He loves them. There may be people in your very family who have never heard this wonderful news. 

We must not grow weary of waiting, and yet we must not grow weary of sharing so that others might know the joy of God’s love!

This Christmas, as we remember the first advent and wait for the second, may we reach out to those who need to hear about God’s first coming, represented by the celebration of Jesus’ birth and may we also share the good news of His second coming which will bring love, joy, peace and hope forever. 

Let’s pray.

Dear God, On this blessed Christmas Eve, we come before you with a humble heart. We thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus, who came to save us from our sins and offer us your grace and love. We long for him to return and make all things right. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Questions to ponder.

  1. Why is waiting so hard for us?

  2. Why don’t we notice God working in and through us when we find ourselves in a

    time of waiting?

  3. Why do you think Jesus is taking His time in coming back to earth?

  4. Who is one person you could share the good news of Jesus’ first and second