This post last updated on November 30th, 2022
“Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” We find it on decorations, in Christmas cards, and its something we sing. But what makes this famous saying so much more than holiday cliche?
A Prophecy of the First and Second Advent of Jesus Christ
We break some of these out once a year and read them in our churches and homes at Christmas time. The traditional narratives of Christ’s birth found in the Gospels are appropriately popular at this time of year, too. Isaiah 53 has always been an important one as well.
The redemption found in that chapter usually reduces me to a pile of tears.
And when it comes to Christmas prophecy, it’s the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem that we’re talking about. That’s the first advent, or arrival of God’s Messiah, Jesus Christ. But the first advent of Christ only sets the stage and infinitely raises the stakes on the importance of the second advent of Jesus.
What do I mean by the “first and second Advent of Christ,” anyway? The writer D. Young over at Biblehub points out that the first coming of Christ is when He began the work of drawing sinners to himself. The second coming of Christ will be His completing the work of salvation and delivering those who believe in him into everlasting life.
In this post, I want to break from the Christmas norm just a little and spend some time with you on both Advents. We’ll do that with the first 2 verses of Isaiah 61.
This chapter is known as the Year of the Lord’s Favor and it’s a prophecy of what has been, and what’s to come. Since Jesus fulfilled at least 365 prophecies, wouldn’t it make sense to look at just one that he has yet to carry out?
The Year of the Lord’s Favor
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;Isaiah 61:1-2
Jesus Makes a Bold Move
Jesus launched his public ministry by rolling out a copy of the Isaiah scroll to a specific verse and citing Isaiah publicly in the synagogue. You can find that recorded in Luke 4:16-19. The verse he launched his ministry with? You guessed it: Isaiah 61:1-2.
You’ll notice that he stopped his reading just before the part in that second verse that states, “the day of the Lord’s vengeance.” He didn’t even finish the sentence in the Isaiah scroll. He stopped short, rolled it up, handed it back to the attendant, and then he sat down (Luke 4:20).
Not. Even. Close.
Why? Because his earthly ministry was to fulfill the first part of that prophecy. The first Advent was “to proclaim good news, restore sight to the blind, set captives free, and to declare the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Jesus stood in that synagogue and began his public ministry on Earth by proclaiming and fulfilling that prophecy.
The Messiah had arrived. God’s favor had just been declared upon mankind. That’s the good news proclaimed!
His very deliberate move of closing the scroll and returning it to the attendant sends the clear message that he has yet to “proclaim the day of vengeance of our God.”
The second Advent.
It’s a stark warning to you and I that if Jesus were to fulfill hundreds of prophecies, which he did do, and historical records support this, then he will return to complete the other prophecies.
Isaiah wrote prophecy from a perspective that was about 700 years before Christ’s first coming. Yet every single detail that Isaiah prophesied concerning that event has been fulfilled.
You and I have the advantage of reading Isaiah 2,000 years after Christ’s birth. When Isaiah recorded these prophecies, he didn’t have any reference of time between the two advents.
So, what God wrote through the prophet is a separation of “the year of the Lord’s favor” (first Advent) from “the day of vengeance” (second Advent) with the small, insignificant word and.
“…to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God.”
In reality, that little and is the expanse of time between when Jesus proclaimed and fulfilled this verse, and when he returns to complete the second part of it. These are the first and second Advent.
Connecting the Prophecies
Let’s tie these Isaiah prophecies together.
Isaiah 53 is a prophecy of Jesus Christ’s first coming (or first Advent). It cannot be stressed enough that everything that was foretold in chapter 53 of Isaiah has been fulfilled.
Isaiah 61:1-2 is Christ’s proclamation of his earthly ministry to all people. You’ll find that fulfilled in Luke 4:16-19. This ministry culminates as Jesus died on the cross as our Savior and was resurrected as our Redeemer.
But wait. There’s one more I haven’t mentioned yet. Isaiah 63 is where you’ll find more about the “day of vengeance of our God” that we already found in Isaiah 61:2.
When you read that chapter, you’ll discover the hope that is found in the one who is “mighty to save.” But here’s the warning you’ll find in Isaiah 63: he won’t return as an infant to a manger. Christ’s triumphant return to Earth will be as conquering King. (Revelation 1:7; Titus 2:13; Revelation 19:11-16)
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 1:7
Jesus is the Reason for the Season
That’s my message this Christmas. The hope that is in me is the redemption and saving grace found only in Jesus Christ.
When the birth and the life of one man, Jesus, fulfilled hundreds of prophecies that were made centuries before his birth, it’s undeniable that my hope, my trust, and my faith is placed in him.
And I need a redeemer.
This Christmas, as you give and receive gifts, I hope you take a quiet moment and appreciate Christmas for what it really is, and what it will be.
The second Advent.
Without Christ, there is no Christmas. Truly, Jesus is the reason for the season. All seasons.
And, though we celebrate the gift of the birth of Jesus Christ but once each year, his gift reaches into eternity.