Advent Calendar: December 18

December 18
Read: Psalm 20
Thoughts for Parents:

If all you knew about Christianity was the story of Calvary, you wouldn’t think that it was very good news. If the message ended with, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last” (Mark 15:37), you wouldn’t really have heard anything worth rejoicing over. What’s there to rejoice about in a beaten, shamed Man, hanging in death on a Roman pike? Why would you sing praises then? The crucifixion only becomes good news when it is seen from the vantage point of the resurrection.

Psalm 20 tells us that the key to our salvation is bound up with the salvation of the King, the Christ, whose very title means “anointed one.” If, and only if, the Anointed King Jesus is delivered from defeat, is our deliverance secured. And yet, what do we see on that dark mount? Do we see Him being delivered on Calvary? No … not at all. What we see is the theoretical triumph of evil and the final humiliation of a Man of uncertain lineage who seemed like a good idea that has proven defective at the last.

David was sure that “the Lord saves his anointed;” that he would “answer Him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand” (Psalm 20:6). He was sure that when the anointed called out, the Lord in heaven would answer. But that’s not what happened on Calvary. No, in fact, we see just the opposite. The Anointed King calls out and isn’t answered. He isn’t delivered … and all our hope for deliverance and salvation is in vain. Until the resurrection, that is.

It is in the resurrection that everything we hope for is finally secured. The resurrection assures us that Christ’s offering of perfect obedience and propitiatory sacrifice has been accepted on our behalf. The resurrection is God’s final (and life-giving) shout of “AMEN!” to Jesus’ faithful, “It is finished.” Because He has been delivered, because He has arisen and stood upright, we know that we will too.

We can be sure now that God will send us help and support when we call. We can rejoice that He will grant us our godly desires and forgive and love us. And so, in response, we, too, can shout for joy. Does the Lord save His anointed ones? Does He rescue those who don’t trust in their own goodness and strength but rather in the goodness and strength of Christ? Yes! So we respond, “O Lord, you have saved the King! And because of that we can rejoice in knowing that you will answer us when we call.”
Thoughts for Children:

Do you ever wonder if God hears you when you pray? I know sometimes it feels like I am just talking to nobody. Our verses today tell us something very different. Our verse tells us that God does hear us, and He does answer us when we pray. The really good news is that He doesn’t hear and answer us when we pray because we are good little boys and girls. God knows all that is in your heart and every thing you think and He knows that you are not a good little boy or girl. Now that might not sound like very good news to you, that might not make you smile. If my friends knew all of my thoughts, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have any friends any more. They would see how selfish am and always wanted the good things that they had. They would see how angry I get when I don’t get my way. God knows those things about us, but He doesn’t see them anymore. How is that possible? Because we are hiding in Jesus. When God looks at us, all He sees is His perfect Son who did everything right all the time.

Because Jesus was born, because of how he lived, and because died for us, we can know that God will always hear our prayers and always answer us, one more reason to smile today.