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What Jesus Wants For Christmas: Get Ready
December 3, 1995

MATTHEW 24:36-44

What does Jesus want for Christmas? Intriguing question, isn't it. Have you ever given Jesus a Christmas present? After all, it is Jesus' birthday. Through the Advent sermons, I will spell out the word GIFT. The G in the gift we can give Jesus for Christmas stands for Get ready. Jesus wants us to Get ready. In the lesson read this morning, Jesus said to his disciples (Matthew 24:44), Therefore, you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

In Advent, we remember, celebrate, and anticipate the coming of God into the world again this Christmas through the birth of the baby Jesus. In Advent, we anticipate Christ's coming in final glory and triumph at the end of history. In Advent, we anticipate Christ's coming into our lives daily, hourly in unexpected ways, as well as experiencing his ongoing presence in our lives. Therefore, get ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Get ready for timing is everything. Do you know when the fax was invented? An Italian priest, Giovanni Caselli, developed the first commercial fax system between Paris and Lyons in 1865, 130 years ago. He used the telegraph line to send a fax. But nobody understood it. Nobody got it. Nobody used it. He was too far ahead of his time. So the fax sat about as an unused invention while it waited for the world to catch up.

Jesus knew timing. Early in his ministry, he told his disciples in John 7:6, My time has not yet come. Later in his ministry, he told the disciples in John 12:23, The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Jesus knew when it was time to step forward and lead a crowd, and when it was time to slip away unnoticed. He knew there were times to fast and times to feast. Jesus knew when it was time to protect and conserve his energy, and when it was time to expend even his reserves on the crowds of needy followers surrounding him. The first coming of Jesus into this world was perfectly timed, even though it seems strange to us. Leonard Sweet writes,

God orchestrated the timing of the Messiah's humble birth to seemingly insignificant parents, in an unremarkable tiny village, located in a foreign-occupied, agriculturally barren, politically incorrect country, during a pre-technological, indeed barely civilized period in human history. But in the divine plan, it was the perfect time, the perfect place, in the perfect circumstances.

Not only does Jesus have a superb sense of timing, so does the devil. The devil knows when we are the most vulnerable. When the devil made no headway tempting Jesus in the wilderness, Luke 4:13, he departed from him until an opportune time.

An opportune time. Timing is everything. Wait for the appropriate time. Get ready and wait. Wise parents wait for the opportune time to teach children. It is unproductive to teach children in the heat of the moment when anger is raging, tempers are flying, and the power struggle is at its height! Wise parents withdraw from the conflict, and wait for the opportune time to discipline. When Philip came home an hour late, his mother was stewing inside. But rather than reprimanding, scolding, and lecturing, she said nothing. However, the next day when Philip asked if he could go visit his friends again, she calmly replied, "No, you did not act responsibly yesterday. You may try again tomorrow." Wise couples wait for the opportune time to discuss disagreements, knowing that the wrong time is in the heat of the moment when they are dodging frying pans and rolling pins.

Wait for the opportune time. Get ready for the coming of Christ into your life at any moment, as well as at the end of time. Get ready and wait. Patience. Our four-year-old granddaughter, Alison, enjoys Family Camp. She tells her friends about it. She talks about camp constantly. She asked her Dad when is it time for Family Camp. He explained they would have Thanksgiving, Christmas, winter, Easter and spring before they could go to camp. She replied wistfully, "Daddy, waiting is so hard." She's right! Waiting is so hard, but she's ready for camp. She is mentally prepared, anticipating the big day. Get ready for the coming of the Lord.

Get ready by taking time. Take time. Use your time wisely. In a New Yorker cartoon, a couple, obviously tourists, dash up the steps of the Louvre shouting, "Where's the Mona Lisa? We're double-parked!" Ellie and I did a similar dash. We were in Pasadena, and though short of time, we stopped at the Huntington Library, paid the entrance fee, ran through the gardens, dashed into the gallery and up the stairs, to take a breathless peak at the painting, Blue Boy. However, the next time we were in Pasadena, we took time. We sauntered slowly, taking time to enjoy not only Blue Boy, but the other paintings and the lovely gardens as well. On a safari in Africa, the Americans, as usual, were in a hurry to get there (wherever there is). At one corner they found the African porters sitting down. The Americans tried to hurry them, but one of them replied, "We're waiting for our souls to catch up with our bodies."

Take time. What Jesus wants for Christmas is for you to take time to be with him. Relax, catch your breath, read the Bible, meditate, pray, enjoy Jesus' company. A poem by R. S. Thomas,

Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future,

nor hankering after

an imagined past.

It is the turning

aside like Moses to the miracle

of the lit bush, to a brightness

that seemed as transitory as your youth

once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

Take time. Wait for God's time by taking time to get ready. Ready or not, he's coming! Two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Get ready, for you do not know when your Lord is coming.

© 1995 Douglas I. Norris