First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’ For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation. –2 Peter 3:1-10
Our Advent season begins with “scoffers with their scoffing.” Peter is speaking here about those who scoffed and doubted the return of Christ Jesus. They saw things continuing on as they always had, with no indication the promised “day of the Lord” was coming near. So…people scoffed and mocked the promise of God.
We know all too well that scoffers continue their scoffing today, doubting whether Jesus will come again, doubting the promise of a day of judgment, living as if there is no Law and Gospel, no need to repent, no need to live a godly life. Because the world and human life seem to continue on as they always have, many have given up on God altogether, living as if they will live forever.
Peter reminds us, however, that even as the heavens and the earth have existed to this day, by the word of God, so will judgment and destruction come upon godly men and women by that same word. And it will come upon them—and us, like a thief, ready or not!
Advent begins with this word of warning and caution, but also with grace, as Peter explains that the apparent slowness of Jesus’ return is because of his forbearance, as he wished no one to perish, but that all have time to repent. The delay in the Lord’s return is a graceful gift—that all, even the scoffers and doubters, have time to turn from their scoffing and doubt, and believe.
Thus, the message of Advent is not, “Here comes baby Jesus!” but “repent, and prepare the way of the Lord!”
Come, Lord Jesus, come—but until then, bring us all to repentance and faith!
Prepared by David Wendel, North American Lutheran Church