No, today’s message is not a crash course in Aramaic; however, it might be a good idea for each of us to become just a little more familiar with the word Maranatha. This past Sunday marked the first Sunday in Advent. For many Christians, this marks the beginning of a new liturgical year. New Year’s Day is a day of making resolutions. Advent is also a great time for all Christians to make new resolutions in preparation for the coming of our Lord. I invite you to join me in this season of preparation by reading more…..
Biblical scholars debate the specific translation of the word Maranatha. As I said, it comes to us from Aramaic but it cannot be literally translated. This word/phrase only occurs once in the New Testament. It is found in 1 Corinthians 16:22. It is a transliteration of the Aramaic, marana tha. There is even disagreement as to how it should be spelled; some believe it is two words, marana tha, others believe it is one, maranatha. Is it, “Our Lord has come” (past tense), or is it “Our Lord will come” (future tense)? Those who see it as a “plea” believe it is supported by the brief prayer in Revelation 22:20, “Come, Lord Jesus!” As Christians we know the answer is both. Jesus has come and He will come again.
With that as our underpinning, we find ourselves again at the beginning of the season of Advent. Advent is a time to reflect on the reality that our Lord has already come, He is alive with us now, and He will come again at the end of time. As Christians, Advent is an opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah. It is a season of hope and anticipation. But for us, it should be so much more than just the anticipation of Christmas.
The word Advent comes to us from the Latin word adventus “to come to” and it is a translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used in reference to the second coming of Christ. So yes, we do look forward to celebrating Christ’s birth at Christmas and we do remain alert and look forward to His second coming at the end of time. We must also, however, focus in on the importance of inviting Christ to come into our lives today. We don’t need to wait.
Jews looked forward with hopefulness for the Messiah to set them free from bondage and slavery as we see in the words of a popular hymn: O come, O come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Much like those ancient people, we too are also captive. We are captive to our sinful habits. We are captive to the distractions of our modern world. There are so many things in our lives that can keep us from a closer walk with Jesus. We too, mourn in our lonely exile here in our earthly existence waiting for the day at the end of our mortal life when we shall meet Him face to face, and at the same time, we wait for the Son of God to appear at the second coming.
My brothers and sisters, let us rejoice. Yes, rejoice for our Emmanuel has already come into this world and we will of course celebrate His birth at Christmas. Let us rejoice and also look forward in hopeful anticipation for His second coming. But most importantly, let’s rejoice for He shall come to us whenever we invite Him into our life. He is ready to be with us, walk with us and live in us every day if we just let Him.
Maranatha reminds us to look forward to that day when Jesus will come again. This world can make us sad and discouraged at times. We can become bogged down with earthly concerns and desires. If you are discouraged, say to the Lord, Maranatha. If you are filled with anxiety, say to the Lord, Maranatha. If you are facing any type of difficult problem, whether it be work related, family related, health related or something else, say to the Lord, Maranatha. Each time we say this word we are both making a statement of our belief in the fact that our Lord has come and at the same time we are making a plea for Him to come again soon.
So with Advent upon us, and as we start the new liturgical year, let’s make a New Year’s resolution to spend more time ever day in prayer and Scripture study.
Dear Lord, please help me to keep my eyes focused on You this Advent Season. You are my Messiah. Lord I believe that through your birth, death and resurrection you have ransomed me and set me free. Maranatha. Amen.
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