Friday, December 18, 2015

Meeting the Incarnation

4th Sunday of Advent

This Sunday, the second reading will be from Hebrews 10:5-10. I’d suggest reading verses 1-18, for a more full context, as well as the other readings.

One who was familiar with the sacrifices of the Old Testament would know that one day each year, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies to make sacrifices for the sins of the people - would know that he first made a sacrifice for his own sins before he was worthy to offer sacrifices for the whole people. This is exactly the intended audience, and the writer to the Hebrews lays out the ways in which Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament law. Jesus says in Matthew 5:17 that he came not to abolish the the law, but to fulfill it.

The old testament sacrifices, which had to be repeated regularly, were a foreshadowing of the one-time, permanent sacrifice of Christ.

That very sacrifice is the reason for the incarnation. Jesus didn’t come to show us a better way to live (though he did this, too!). His mission was nothing so trivial and fleeting as that. He came to fulfill the old covenant and establish the new one in his blood.

The world would have us believe that Jesus was nothing more than a great teacher - someone who tried to show us a better way to live, teach us how to love. This is simply not true. That would have been pointless.  He’d only have to keep sending more teachers - we, as a species, tend to forget hard-learned lessons very quickly.

No, the core of his mission was to do for us what we could not do for ourselves - perfect obedience to God, followed by serving as the perfect sacrifice that would one and for all make our peace with God.

With what do we approach the notion that the God of the universe loved us so much that he came and laid down his life for us?

It’s a question worth taking to our prayers this week.  Is it with fear? With guilt? With wonder? With gratitude?  With love?

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