Matthew 18:1-5: The Hidden Hero within our Lord’s Advent

This is a confessional address our pastor preached for our Confessional Service, which is a Service of Confession before receiving the Lord’s Supper.

 

The Son of God humbled Himself to be the Son of Man so we, the children of men, might be exalted to become the children of God.  So, from heaven, the incarnate One came to share His sacred name with us.  All the heavenly Father wants to us receive He gives to us in full, through His Son, Jesus, our Emmanuel.

To redeem us, Jesus did not come into this fallen creation in isolation.  No, He entered this world through a family, bringing us salvation so we can live in the love of God’s family.  The substance of our Lord’s nativity hinges on this reality.

To commemorate something requires us to recognize what we celebrate and why.  The Advent season assists us to do this every year, where we learn and relearn what we need to realize and remember.  “To all who received [Jesus], he gave them the right to be the children of God, to those who believe in his name” (John 1:12).  Now, we are the loving Father’s daughters and sons, members of His family.

Now, if we don’t grasp the fullness of Christmas, we will discover ourselves devaluing what Christ did to save us.  A family dimension also intertwines in every life-granting mystery of the Messiah—from His suffering and death to His institution of the Sacraments.  Nowhere, however, is family so evident as in the account of His birth.

Ponder some of the roles Jesus holds—God, Rabbi, Lord, Savior and Redeemer, King and Master.  Still, none of those identities are as intimate as the title, “Son.”  To be a son means you belong to a family.  Now, we can find another hero in the story of the incarnation.  Not a warrior or a conqueror; no, a family.

The details of Jesus’ delivery lead us back to this truth.  The swaddling clothes soon enfolding this breathing and moving God required someone to dress Him—Mary, His mother.  Next to them, is Joseph, her husband, and His stepfather.  So, we discover a household, as well.

The Evangelist Luke speaks of the crib where the Christ-child lay—but how can He sleep inside its cozy confines without a mom and dad.  A couple of years later, the flesh-and-blood Son escapes to Egypt.  Still, someone needs to take Him to His place of refuge, a family, to protect Him from the murdering Herod.

To refocus our spirits, we prepare during Advent to revel in the Christmas feast.  For the childbirth of the infant, Jesus, changes everything, allowing us to be adopted children of the Father.  For the Son chooses to be our brother, who makes us children of His Father.  In His holy family, we encounter more of this Son, whom we come to love and cherish.  The family becomes the key, the doorway, to value Christmas well—even Christianity!

The gift of Jesus is more than forgiveness, for He also brings us into an eternal family.  Through the Spirit He sent, we are born from above—into a family—by the baptismal waters to live in blessedness before Him.  So, we do not lose heart.  For we are washed and cleansed to be the Father’s dear children, as the Son reaches down to strengthen us in Word and Sacrament by the Spirit’s breath.

Embraced as God’s children, we thrive when rooted in His love.  Made temples of the sanctifying Spirit, His grace fills us to the full.  Recreated in the image of our glorious Redeemer, we reflect His glory, becoming more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18).  Yes, Christ is making us more like He is by giving more of Himself to us.  All this can only be true because the divine Son of the Father became the Son, born into a family.

So, you and I are now heaven’s children, which allows us to approach the Almighty’s throne and speak to Him as His beloved.  So, we are alone no longer.  In His Supper, the Son invites us to dine with the saints above, as He is present with both them and us in His blessed Meal.  For when you are a part of Someone’s family, you can eat at the family’s Table.  Come, all is now ready.  Amen.

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