A once proud nation had been crushed under the weight of the world’s most powerful empire; the new order for these people (the practical reality of their daily existence) meant slavery, oppression, extreme taxation, brutality and poverty.
The great longing of the people of Israel was for political freedom. The strain of their daily lives cried out for someone to rise up and lead a successful insurrection against their Roman oppressors. They believed that the “Messiah” would free them from Rome. Jesus surely did not live up to their expectations.
Even in 2010, the citizens of today’s most powerful empire curiously suffer under the weight of various forms of oppression: debt, materialism, consumerism, racism, bigotry, war and poverty. As we move toward the culmination of our Advent celebration, we must consider how we view the birth of Jesus. From the first cries of nativity to His final words, “It is finished”, it seems that according to the world’s standards for a Savior, the Messiah falls short.
The power of the nativity is God’s birth into the world, not as a military leader who would fulfill the hopes of a nation by overthrowing Rome, but as a child who would grow up to die on a Cross at the hands of His oppressors. It is found in its total annihilation of our expectations. Consider your own expectations of God today. If I believe that following Jesus will lead to success, wealth, health, political power or incessant happiness, I am as wrong as the nation of Israel was at the time of Jesus’ birth. The culmination of our Advent celebration actually upends the world’s definitions of power and success. It is surely an insurrection, but one wheremeaning is found in sacrificing for others andfulfillment is discovered in slavery to a Master who modeled the true meaning of life when He was executed on the Cross.
So much of our lives are determined by who we believe God to be… Join me today in anticipation of Christmas by allowing God to invade your expectations of what it means to live a life of faith.