2022 Advent Devotional – Immanuel, God is With Us is Now Available on Kindle

Advent Devotional 2021 – December 11th

PRAYER

Take a moment to become still, aware of God’s presence, and then pray:

Almighty and merciful Father, thank You for so loving the world that You gave Your only begotten Son to become one with us so that we might forever share in Your life and love. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit so that we might hear and obey what You say to us. Amen

REFLECTION

For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ…Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit…The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.”
1 Corinthians 15:21,45,47

It is often called “Blue Christmas”, that time during Advent marking the longest nights of the year. It is a special time to honor loved ones who died that year. When I was a hospice chaplain we held Blue Christmas services for those grieving the loss of a loved one. The joy of Christmas is sometimes tempered by memories of a loved one no longer with us. It is the pain of one less place to set for Christmas dinner and one less stocking to fill. For many who grieve, the “holidays” are the “hollow days”.

It seems that all too often we see proof of today’s scripture, “all die in Adam.” George Bernard Shaw was right: “The statistics on death are impressive. One out of one dies.” No one doubts that much. Just look at the many deaths from COVID this year. What’s more, scientists even talk about the death of the entire universe.

But there is wondrous symmetry and news in today’s scripture: as death came by a “human being” so life comes to us by a “human being”, the “last Adam” from heaven. As God took on our full humanity in becoming our representative, He exhausted the sentence of death so that He might give us life. In the midst of Christological controversy in the early centuries, Cyril of Alexander beautifully described the believer’s union with the incarnate God, Jesus:

For being from above and from heaven, and God by nature and Emmanuel, and having received our likeness, and become a second Adam, how shall He not richly make them partakers of His Own Life, who desire to partake of the intimate union effected with Him by faith? For by the mystic blessing we have become embodied into Him, for we have been made partakers of Him by the Spirit.

(Cyril of Alexander, quoted by Herbert Edward Ryle, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

Although Jesus was the eternal, only begotten Son of God, He became Human for us, so that He might take on our death and give us eternal life. He made Himself “a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity” (Isaiah 53:3) so that He might impart His life to us. Through Jesus’ suffering we are made branches of the Vine (John 15:5), partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4); by His resurrection, we are assured of our own. “We were and are bound up in Him and in what became of Him. We were implicated in what happened to Jesus, so much so that our identity, our existence, our past, present, our relationship with God and with one another and with creation were all fundamentally ordered in this one man.” (C. Baxter Kruger, Jesus and the Undoing of Adam)

This past year has been difficult for so many. But we know that enthroned at God’s right hand is the One who with nail-spiked hands will wipe away every tear.

WORSHIP

Think back over the past 24 hours and note when you experienced a “high” and a “low”. Share with God how the humanity of Jesus might speak to you in what you experienced.

“God is not a grasping, self-centered being. He is most truly known through the One whose equality with God found expression in his pouring himself out in sacrificial love by taking the lowest place, the role of a slave, and whose love for his human creatures found consummate expression in his death on the cross.”

Gordon Fee

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