Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
On that silent and holy night two thousand years ago our Lord was born, almost without notice…almost. There was the angelic announcement to some unsuspecting shepherds, and the star in the sky which some foreigners noticed, but those in power in Israel, whether political or religious, didn’t know He had arrived, nor was the population at large aware.
But there were a few who were expecting Him. Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit had alerted Simeon, and sent him to the temple at the right time (2:25-35). And Anna was already at the temple, since she spent her life there fasting and. praying. Both of them were on alert. They had been praying and preparing for His coming for quite some time, and they were not alone, for the text says that Anna “spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Israel” (v.38). While most of Israel had given up hope, had gotten distracted, or were ignorant of the promise, there were still some clinging to God’s word in faith—they knew their Messiah would come!
Here we are, two millennia later, and we too have a promise of His coming—for a second time. God’s first promise of one who would come (Gen.3:15) was not fulfilled for nearly four thousand years. The wait for His second coming has been half that so far, but there are some signs that we could be moving closer to His soon return. As we wait, the question is, in which group do we find ourselves? Are we among those who have lost hope or lost interest? Are we uninformed about the promises and the signs, so don’t realize we are supposed to be expecting Him? Or are we, like Simeon, Anna, and their cadre, those who are yearning and praying for the coming of our long-expected Jesus?
Revelation shows that there are martyrs praying for the finale, “How long…?!” Revelation also speaks of bowls of prayers filling up before they are powered out in fulfillment. And 2 Peter 3:11-12 infers that we can hasten the day of His coming through looking eagerly for it, living holy and godly lives. While God has a date and time set for That Day, just as He raised up faithful servants like Simeon, Anna and their friends for the first Advent so He could respond to their prayers with fulfillment, He will do so for the second Advent, as well. Do you want to be in that special group? Do you want to be among the chosen instruments to pray, “Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,” and see it fulfilled in response to your earnest pleas?
We should not err in thinking, “Oh, it won’t happen in my day, so why bother?” First, most who lived in Israel at the time of His birth thought the same thing about His first coming. They were in error in thinking He would not come in their lifetime. God often does the unexpected—even when we’re expecting it! Second, Jesus often said that He would come at a time when He was not expected, so when we are thinking that He isn’t expected, that could be the very time He could come! Third, the Revelation passage indicates the bowls are filling over time, so we don’t need to be alive for our prayers to have been already added to that bowl. Our prayers for His return count now, even if He returns after our deaths. Fourth, Jesus said that those who are found watching when He returns are blessed and rewarded. That in itself would be reason enough to pray for, long for, and watch for His coming. Even if we died while on watch, we would be considered an honorable servant for being faithfully at our post, doing what we are called to do, and worthy to hear, “well done.”
Along with prayers for His return we should pray companion prayers for an ingathering of souls for His glory, for a revival among those who are already redeemed but perhaps unready and unwatchful, and for the fortification of those called upon to suffer for their faith that they might remain faithful to the end.
Let us not be among the masses who, when the Master returns, He will find them not at their posts, but distracted with the things of this world, rather may we be among those whom He finds waiting expectantly to welcome Him to His glorious return.