This devotional is Day 21 of the 25-Day Advent Series “The Wonders of His Love.” Follow along with us as we grow in grace through the Christmas story by subscribing or bookmarking the home page above!
Scripture: Revelation 1:4-7
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” Philippians 4:4
Just last week I delivered my second child, a son. What a surreal joy it is to re-enter the newborn stage at the same time the world celebrates the arrival of baby Jesus!
To a degree it brings the wonder of the nativity scene to life, minus the straw-filled manger and epic angelic announcements.
And yet, when the foggy days of sleep deprivation and nursing take over, admittedly it can be difficult to hold onto that delight.
The subtle challenges of normal life can so easily pile up and overshadow our blessings, and even more, pull our gaze away from glories of Christ.
All this makes me think of Mary.
Once the excited shepherds left the stable and the wise men made their departure, once Joseph’s dream put the young parents on the run to Egypt (Matthew 2:13)—how did she feel holding and caring for the vulnerable babe in her arms?
We saw earlier in the series that Mary treasured the Christmas events in her heart (Luke 2:19). Perhaps her wonder at Jesus’s birth preserved her in the hard days and years to come.
So we too must gather strength in the difficult everyday by treasuring and rejoicing in what the Word reveals to us about Christ.
The command in Scripture to rejoice is not to be taken lightly, because it builds a fortress for our faith as we await Jesus to come again.
This takes us to Revelation. It is at the end of the Bible where we have a glimpse of the grand conclusion to God’s redemptive work. There, in pictures of His second Advent, we turn our hearts from His hope-filled arrival as an infant to His triumphant, victorious status as our beloved Conquerer of sin and death.
In the first chapter of Revelation we see 5 reasons we can rejoice in Jesus no matter our past mistakes, present circumstances, or future fears.
“John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” Revelation 1:4-7
Here we see Jesus is:
The Faithful Witness
To be a witness is to testify to what’s real. When our hearts are wandering and maybe even woeful, we can begin to doubt what we’re doing and why. Worldly opinions and earthly longings compete for our attention, and threaten to jade our perspective. Christ, however, is our cornerstone.
If any confusion sits in our soul, we only need look at Jesus to see the plan of God.
He is not obscure, abstract, or elusive like other religions or philosophies, but a breathing Person. He has faithfully accomplished the Father’s will and opened the door to salvation.
As God in the flesh, He now sits at the right hand of the Father as our Advocate and ever-present source of truth.
He is the answer to our every question, our every longing. Part of why He came was to be the testimony of God and call us out of darkness.
Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” John 18:37
We can rejoice because Jesus is the Truth. We need not search elsewhere, but listen and find rest in who He is and His living representation of God’s love.
The Firstborn of the Dead
In every sigh, in every tear, in every pain, there echoes the curse of death that was placed upon our broken world when Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit. Their disobedience and consequently our own forged a chasm between us and our wonderful, holy Creator. But when Jesus came, a sweet child turned sacrificial Savior, our fate dramatically changed.
When Scripture says “firstborn” it denotes Christ’s rank. He pleased the Father by surrendering Himself for the world, and so is the honored recipient of the Father’s Kingdom (Philippians 2:8-11). Then, in His win over our greatest enemy death, He made us co-heirs with Him of the Heavenly Kingdom.
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:16-17
We can rejoice because the dark shadow of death no longer has its sting. He has granted us eternal life at His side.
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” Hebrews 2:14-15
The Final King
As politics grow ever louder and global issues ever complicated, people long for a leader who will bring about “world peace.” Yet such a thing isn’t possible apart from Jesus, specifically when He returns again.
Mankind will finally reach rest and restoration under His forever reign. He is sovereign over the events of today, but soon and very soon He will have a total, everlasting rule that will silence all evil, quell all our fears, and bring total stability.
We can rejoice because as the King of Kings Jesus is rewriting our story for good and will be the loving, last ruler of our lives.
“On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” Revelation 19:16
The Freedom from Sin
Whatever burden, guilt, crime, shame you can name is lifted when you place your faith in Jesus, the Son of God who limitlessly loves us.
His blood shed on the cross diverted God’s wrath away from you and me, appeasing the Father’s rightful anger. When He laid His life down He bought us to be His own, releasing us from any condemnation (1 Peter 1:17-19).
This forgiveness, this atonement, can liberate us daily as we confess our sins. We can rejoice because any shackle that keeps us from knowing and communing with God can be smashed by the merciful love of our Savior. He has qualified us to be priests, which means we can dwell in God’s presence like never before and for eternity.
“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2
The Finisher of our Faith
Finally, in the more grim section of our passage in Revelation, we can rejoice that His next coming is guaranteed. His coming will hold a peculiar glory, a full glory, that will beautifully affirm our faith as believers and simultaneously judge the unrepentant world (v. 7).
There will finally be perfect justice and perfect peace when the Son is revealed to all.
Often this second Advent – this epic ending – comes to my mind and every time it shakes me to the core. Though we do not now see Jesus, we can rejoice because someday we will! This is our for sure future. This is our very real hope.
Such a reality not only blesses our future but can bless our today.