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On Sunday, December 24th, millions of families around the world, especially children, are looking forward to Christmas morning. The promise of presents, sweet treats, games, and celebrations can make many people excited and unable to sleep.
For Christians, Christmas Eve is the final day of Advent, a season of anticipation for the arrival of Christmas Day and the celebration of the birth of Jesus. In fact, this sense of anticipation for the coming of Christ is reflected throughout the Bible.
Christ’s arrival at Christmas began with the announcement of the new birth of his cousin, John the Baptist.
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In Luke 1, John the Baptist’s upcoming birth is announced to his father, Zechariah the priest, by Gabriel, the same angel who announces his incarnation to Mary. Zechariah is confused because both he and his wife Elizabeth are old. His unbelief was temporarily punished with silence by Gabriel until John was born. There is no doubt that the nine months leading up to John’s birth increased the anticipation that both he and Elizabeth felt.
A few months after announcing the birth of John, Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary. He is the Savior of the world, the Messiah, whom John the Baptist will proclaim to the masses as a forerunner. At first Mary was perplexed by the angel’s words, but she answered in faith: “Let it be done to you according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
Thus begins a nine-month wait for Mary and Joseph. Pregnancy is a time of great preparation and anticipation for parents-to-be. Now imagine if the baby you were expecting was foretold to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Just think how many more questions you’ll have and how eagerly you’ll be looking forward to his arrival.
As the birth of Jesus approaches, more curveballs are thrown at Mary and Joseph. It was a decree from Caesar Augustus requiring everyone to go to their hometown to register for the census. Joseph was living in Nazareth at the time, but he comes from Bethlehem, about 90 miles away. The couple knows their time is near, but they are currently on a very long journey on foot. It is safe to assume that their level of expectation was heightened by fear that they would not be able to reach Bethlehem in time.
But the expectations weren’t over.
When Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, shepherds were watching over their flocks in the hills and fields. Being a shepherd is a very cautious profession in many ways. Shepherds constantly anticipate the needs of their flocks, such as the need for new grazing areas, stray sheep, and potential predator threats.
The angel of the Lord appears to the shepherds on his typical night watch, and the shepherds are surprised and frightened. Surely they didn’t expect it!
“Do not be afraid,” says the angel, “behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will come to all peoples, for today in the city of David has been born to you a Savior, Christ the Lord. ” (Luke 2:10-11).
Suddenly, many angels appear and the shepherds declare, “Let us go to Bethlehem and see this event that the Lord has made known to us” (Luke 2:15).
Imagine the shepherds’ burning desire to see what heaven itself told them.
There are also wise men from the east who see a star in the sky and know that it heralds the arrival of a new king. “We have come to worship him, because we saw his star in the east,” they say to the people of Jerusalem (Matthew 2:2). By all accounts, their journey was not a short one. Ancient texts say these people came from as far away as Persia, India, and Arabia.
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For the wise men, the anticipation of welcoming the new King and the God-ordained star revealed in prophecy as extremely special compels them to embark on the journey. Their stories involve not just the simple anticipation of arriving at a destination, but also knowing it. Who They are on a journey to meet the new king of their dreams. worship And they brought the best gift for everyone.
The anticipation of Christmas is not just for children and families, it is part of the Christmas story itself. As magical as all the decorations and decorations of the modern Christmas holiday seem, the excitement we feel for Christmas today ultimately reflects the anticipation we felt on that first Christmas Eve. Don’t forget that.
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In fact, the birth of Christ on Christmas Day fulfills the expectations of Advent. Jesus is the hope the world has been waiting for. Jesus is the peace the world needs. Jesus is the joy that fills the hearts of those who yearn for him. Jesus is the love of God, come to this earth.
So, this Christmas Eve, look forward to the merry festivities of celebrating Christmas from the morning. But perhaps they also share the ancient expectation of Christmas: the coming of the Savior.