On 1st December we begin reading the book together that many of you have purchased – The One True Story by Tim Chester as an opportunity for reflecting on the person and work of Jesus and what it means for us. The book is a series of 24 Advent readings, starting on 1st December, to take us through the Old Testament story-line and show us how it is completed in Christ.
We would love to hear any observations, thoughts or prayers that you have each day.
Day 1 – The Firstborn
The life of Jesus is ever new. Jesus never had a beginning. He was not created, but he is described as the firstborn over all creation, meaning he was there before creation – an eternally supplied pool from the eternal fountain. But he is also the firstborn from among the dead bringing new life and joy that we can share.
Day 2 – The New Adam
What is man? An insignificant creature in a universe of stars who cannot even rule creation properly. But we see Jesus. Who was made [a man], now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death. He is the new Adam.
Day 2 – The Dragon Slayer
Satan tempts Eve in the garden. Satan is the dragon in the spectacular vision in Revelation 12, seeking to destroy the child and persecute his offspring, the church (“those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus”) But he will not succeed because Jesus is the dragon slayer the serpent crusher. Yes it will cost, he will be bruised but ultmately he will triumph.
Day 4 – The True Brother
Cain does not worship God because Cain apparently does not respect God and he kills his brothers Abel. Christmas is about a better brother. We have failed to be our brother’s keeper, but Jesus is the ultimate older brother who always loves. always cares, always protects. Christmas is about a better sacrifice: Abel’s blood condemns us – it is a tragic pointless death, a symbol of a broken world and our own guilt. Jesus’ blood reconciles. His blood speaks a better word.
To listen to the sermon based on this chapter click here
Day 5 – The New Ark
Noah’s Ark floated on top of the watery judgement God. God sent a global flood but in his grace he saved 8 people. Later Moses was saved from the baby massacre of Pharaoh in a tiny Ark just for one. Moses would one day lead the people across the Red Sea delivered through the waters that would flood back on the Egyptians as God’s judgement. Jesus is baptised at the beginning of his ministry identifying with us in judgement and salvation – enfolding himself in the waters of God’s judgement as a sign of what was to come. He would enter the flood of God’s wrath but he would come out the other side of that vast depths of God’s judgement. Jesus is the true Ark – we are kept safe in him.
Day 6 – The Hope of Nations
In Genesis 11 the people tried to make a name for themselves and God comes to judge and scatter them to fulfil his purpose to disperse and diversify. When Jesus comes down it is not to judge but unite. Wise men come from the East – the way the world scattered, the way Cain travelled – away from the presence of God. Jesus comes to call the nations, to unite the nations. Not a kingdom of one language and speech as a human attempt at uniformity but true godly diversity – every tribe language, people and nation under one head – Christ. The wise men worship.
Day 7 – The Ultimate Punchline
God makes a massive promise to Abraham that his aging wife will have a son, in fact that his wife will be the mother of nations. They both laughed. Inappropriately. The promised son was soon born. Then Sarah laughs properly. Much later an even more unlikely event, in fact an impossible one happens. Mary is promised a son and soon enough she does give birth but she was neither old nor infertile, she was a virgin. The God of the impossible is at again and now we can all laugh with Mary as she says “‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.”
Day 8 – The Justice of God
Abraham is told about God’s judgement on the wicked cities Sodom and Gomorrah. He learns that God is not arbitrary or unfair in his judgements but always just. He rescues Lot, a righteous man, from those cities. In a much more dramatic way we are rescued by the coming of Jesus. He received the hard rain of God’s judgement like those cities as if he was the most wicked of them all and by his sacrifice we are set free. Just keep looking forward!
Day 9 – The Refugee
We think of Christmas as a time for the children – when the focus is more on them. The first Christmas was a terrifying time to be a young boy as King Herod ordered the massacre of infant boys in his insane jealousy of the Christ. The gospel writer Matthew connects this with words in Jeremiah about the judgement on the children of Rachel (meaning Israel), as they were carried away into exile and nearly ceased to exist as a nation. To avert the danger, Jesus is taken to Egypt and becomes a kind of refugee, an exile in Egypt. But not for long.
Day 10 – The Rock
The people travelling through the desert grumbled, and like us, perhaps especially over Christmas, underlying our moans is a mistrust in the good provision of God. But Moses does something quite unexpected and instead of judging the people he strikes a rock which then gushes water for them. That rock was Christ. When Christ comes, the judgement that should fall on us falls on him. God the Father strikes him and we are satisfied.
Day 11 – The Tabernacle
The Old Testament “Tabernacle” (tent) spoke of God’s presence – it was a dwelling place and a meeting place. But it also spoke of God’s distance: the people cannot survive his presence only the Priests can enter the most holy place and this happened only once per year with a sacrifice. God is more holy and sin is more serious than we think. The New Tabernacle is Jesus who brings God’s Presence to us (John 1:14). He is God dwelling with us (John uses the Greek word for pitching a tent (tabernacle). Jesus brings the awesome glory of God to us. But Jesus also brings us into God’s presence. The problem of sin is not dealt with just by God being with us – Jesus also brings us into the presence of God by dealing with the offence that separates us – our sin – He is full of grace and truth.
To listen to the sermon based on this chapter click here
Day 12 – The true people of God
Who are the people of God? Abraham’s children? The tribe of Judah? Adam failed in the garden. The children of Israel failed in the desert. The nation of Israel failed in the promised land. Jesus after his baptism passed through temptation in the wilderness. He was the perfect Adam, the perfect son and the perfection nation. Look up with eyes of faith to see Jesus in heaven on your behalf.
Day 13 – The true warrior
Joshua led the people of Israel into the promised land. He gives them rest. He mostly conquers the promised land but the victory was not complete – they did not drive out all the wicked nations and in their own actions they were often unfaithful to God. For these reasons their rest was limited and temporary. Joshua means the Lord saves. The Greek form of the name is Jesus. Jesus is the new Saviour who will bring about a rest that will be complete and everlasting.
Day 14 – The True Judge
Samson was born to a barren woman after a visit from an angel with a promise. Samson was a mighty warrior but who died in weakness because of his own folly. Yet in his death he won a great victory over the Philistines. Jesus was a great warrior who demonstrated his power in countless miracles. He dies in weakness but a he breathes his last a great victory is won.
Day 15 – The Anointed One
King David was anointed with oil by Samuel to show that God’s Spirit was going to be with him to equip him for the task. The king was described as the anointed one – the word Messiah. So when Jesus is described in that way it connected with all that rich history and expectation. And Jesus truly would be someone who came in the power of the Holy Spirit – truly anointed to be king.
Day 16 – The Suffering Servant
What kind of king comes from Nazareth? What kind of king gets crucified? Being crucified was the ultimate shame. When Matthew talks about Jesus fulfilling the prophecy that the Messiah would be a Nazarene. He wasn’t referring to a specific prophecy more of the idea that the Christ would be connected with the shame of being an outsider, associated with lowest. From insignificant beginnings, ignominious and suffering. Not the kind of king you’d expect but the one we all needed.
Day 17 – The Ultimate King
David was made a promise. He wanted to make a house for God – to build a permanent structure rather than the tabernacle. But God says rather than you building a house for me I will build a house for you. And God didn’t mean a place for David to live. He meant a dynasty, a kingdom. However David and his descendants never fulfilled the promise. The kingly line was preserved, but the kings were disappointing. There were some who showed moments of great faith and true worship but other times they were self worshipping sinners. So how would God fulfil his promise to the house of David. Fast forward to the virgin Mary as the angel says to her “The Lord will give him the throne of his father David and he will reign… forever.”
Day 18 – The Good Shepherd
King David takes a census of his people – whether through misplaced confidence, or to enslave some of them or for some other reason, it was wrong and he knew it was wrong. And God judges by sending a plague which is advancing towards Jerusalem. But at the very spot where Isaac was almost sacrificed David stood there and pleaded with God – “I am the shepherd… let your hand fall on me.” A thousand years later Jesus was to say “I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Day 19 – The Wisdom of God
King David’s son Solomon asks God for wisdom. God grants him legendary wisdom – people came from far and wide to visit Solomon and experience his wisdom first. The magi, wise men, came to visit Jesus whose wisdom would surpass that of Solomon. Not that that he was notably clever but that he feared the Lord his Father and turned the wisdom of the world upside down as he died for our sins
Day 20 – The Whisper of God
The God who spoke to Moses as he passed by and speaks declaring his wonderful character. On the same mountain Elijah hears from the Lord in a whisper. Not because God is timid but because he is not in the dramatic; he is not a God who is of nature or contained by nature but he is unique and speaks clearly and tenderly to our souls. Jesus as he on the mountain hanging on the Cross declares that same character of God – love compassion and perfect justice
Day 21 – The Presence of God
King Ahaz was told to keep calm and not be afraid although what was predicted was immediate deliverance but the longer term decline and end to his dynasty. The Virgin will be with child didn’t seem such good news for Ahaz. But for us the virgin birth is the sign that God is with us and for us. “Our God contracted to a span incomprehensibly made man.”
Day 22 – The End of the Exile
Israel and Judah were carried off into captivity. There was a return in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah when Cyrus, a kind of Messiah decreed that the exiles could go home. But the nation was never restored to its former glory let alone fulfil all God’s promises for a more glorious kingdom. Exile is a picture of humanity’s exclusion from the presence and blessing of God. Jesus brings the presence of God to us so we can, in him enter the presence of God and know his blessing
Day 23 – The Lord
The question of the people in Malachi – why doesn’t God intervene to judge evil and put things right is answered in Jesus. He is the Lord who John the Baptist, the messenger prepares the way for. He comes this time though not to judge evil but himself to be judged. But he will come again and all wrongs will be put right. Who can endure the day of his coming? Only those who are “in Christ.”
Day 24 – The One True Story
The genealogy in Matthew 1 seems a rather dull beginning to his book but actually it’s an exciting overview of the stories and the story. Jesus is at the centre of the story but by our connection to him we can become part of the story ourselves and those fallen people in the list were drawn in to God’s amazing plan.
To listen to the sermon based on this chapter click here