For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. — John 1: 17
God accepts all human beings without reservation in Jesus Christ.
This Sunday marks the beginning of Advent; a time of expectation, a time of arrival. Our Bible text can also be understood in view of the Old Testament’s anticipation of the Messiah, which came to fulfilment in the arrival of Jesus of Nazareth. A turn in the tide is addressed here, namely the transition from the Mosaic Law to the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. And this always reminds us of His promise to return. With this, His renewed arrival, our hope will be fulfilled!
The law of love
The Mosaic Law had an abundance of individual provisions that were intended to regulate the relationship between human beings and God, as well as their relationships among one another. Often people failed to live up to this law, as it was impossible for them to keep all the prescriptions of the law. However, there was one Man who managed to keep them all, namely Jesus Christ. He thus succeeded in doing something no other human being has ever been capable of.
When one of the scribes asked Him which was the greatest commandment, Jesus answered, “‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12: 29–31).
- made it clear that He had not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil it (Matthew 5: 17).
- made the Old Testament commandment of love for God and one’s neighbour the focal point of His teaching and actions (Leviticus 19: 18).
Jesus made it clear that the commandments of God can only be fulfilled if there is a corresponding attitude. It was on the foundation of love that God gave mankind the commandments in the first place. Human beings should therefore also fulfil them out of love for Him and their neighbour (John 14: 21).
An advent mindset
Advent gives us the opportunity to once again expressly think about that which God has done upon us. We feel His love through Jesus Christ, who has come to us—and will come again. This is the foundation of our hope and confidence, even in dark days. Let us testify of this hope and confidence to others, and tell them about the following.
- The great value our fellowship among the believers holds for us! Let us also remember those who feel alone and abandoned, who would gladly share our joy but cannot find anyone with whom to do so. Let us go to them!
- The comfort we draw from the certainty that God is with us despite our weaknesses, and that Jesus Christ intercedes with Him on our behalf! Let us tolerate and forgive one another within the congregation (Colossians 3: 13). Let us never tire of approaching one another!
- There are many who feel as though they might break under the weight of their guilt. We can uplift and comfort them!
- Advent reminds us about what we are waiting for: the return of Christ! There are so many people who are afraid of the future! They feel helpless when they see what is coming. Let us continue to tell them that Jesus Christ will return!
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for divine service held on Sunday, 29 November 2015 at Midrand Congregation.