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The Long-Expected Jesus

"Come, Thou long-expected Jesus!" The opening line of this great Christmas hymn encapsulates the desire of every Israelite pre-Christ’s birth.  In fact, it’s a bit of an understatement.  Christ was certainly “long-expected”… but just how long had people been waiting for him?

Simeon is a great example of someone who waited expectantly to see the birth of Christ.  It was promised to him that he would not die before he met Christ, and he did in fact get to hold the baby Jesus in his arms, allowing him to praise God saying: “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace” (Luke 2:26-29).

Job is another good example.  After suffering countless trials, Job was struggling to understand why God would let so many bad things happen to him.  But he found solace in this: “Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, he who testifies for me is on high…I know that my Redeemer lives!” (Job 16:19/19:25). He knew in heaven was a Redeemer who would vindicate him and he knew God would see this all to pass one day.

Even still, Jesus was expected long before Job’s story.  Ever since the beginning of the world there has been the promise of a Savior.  The very moment in the Garden when Adam and Eve sinned, God pronounced judgment on them and the Serpent.  And to the Serpent he said: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and her offspring; he (Christ) shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heal” (Gen. 3:15).  He is telling Satan that Christ will one day come and crush sin, he will put Satan and sin and death underneath his feet.  And even though he was speaking to the Serpent, Adam and Eve were there and would have heard these very first hints of grace to come.  Isn’t that amazing? Ever since there was a sickness (sin) God immediately promised a remedy (Christ)!

How good are you at keeping promises you make? I think of the list of things I have promised to get done around the house, and how it seems to grow bigger and bigger. How easily we can give our word and then forget to follow through! But isn’t it encouraging to know we have a God who has kept his promises ever since the beginning of time? 

Jesus had been expected, yearned, and anxiously waited for since Genesis when God had promised he would come.  And this Christmas we celebrate His birth – the time when people had to wait no longer – the time when God fulfilled His promise.  The long-expected Jesus had come, he had come to set his people free and deliver them from their sins.  And since God kept this great promise, we can trust Him in whatever He tells us. We can trust him when He tells us Christ will come again and reign forever – and for that, we now wait expectantly.

Jonathan Cruse