As we did throughout Advent 2011 and Lent 2012, we are blogging our way through the Advent 2012 Lectionary Readings. We love this time of year, and sharing with you in this way. Our overarching theme during this season is “Preparing the Path” and our prayer is that as we march together toward the manger, we will prepare the way for Emmanuel.
A reading from the Epistle to the Hebrews.
When Christ came into the world, he said to God,
“Sacrifices and offerings are not what you want, but you have given me my body. No, you are not pleased with animal sacrifices and offerings for sin.”
Then Christ said,
“And so, my God, I have come to do what you want, as the Scriptures say.”
The Law teaches that offerings and sacrifices must be made because of sin. But why did Christ mention these things and say that God did not want them? Well, it was to do away with offerings and sacrifices and to replace them. That is what he meant by saying to God, “I have come to do what you want.” So we are made holy because Christ obeyed God and offered himself once for all.
— Hebrews 10:5-10 (CEV)
Todays scriptures bring us to the crux of the matter. Why did Christ come?
Why the angels told a teenaged girl that she was going to have a baby?
Why the trek to Bethlehem?
Why the manger?
Why the feast at Cana?
Why the calling of a team of twelve unlikely guys?
Why the entry into the city on a donkey’s back?
Why the bread and the wine–the body and the blood?
Why the arrest in Gethsemane?
Why the sham of a trial?
Why the cross?
Why the tomb?
Why the resurrection?
It becomes clear in today’s text.
To make us holy.
The message of today’s text is this: All the animal sacrifices and offerings in the world, could never add up to the voluntary sacrifice of the Son of God.
Jesus told His disciples that He came not to do away with the law, but rather to fulfill the law. He came to be the one sacrifice for all. He came to shift us from sacrificing animals to sacrificing ourselves.
In His death and resurrection, Jesus set us apart for something bigger than us. He set us apart for a mission that is so mind-boggingly big it makes no logical sense. He set us apart to make His name great in all the world!
As I write this, some friends are in a small village in the west of Turkey. The rumor is that this village will be one of two locations in the world (the other is in France) that will survive the Mayan Apocalypse. It is estimated that nearly 60,000 people will flock to this peaceful village of about 600 residents. And, in the midst of these 60,000 people, a handful of people are sharing the Good News.
They are sharing that great mystery of faith:
Christ has died.
Christ has risen.
Christ will come again.
It’s a mission bigger than our friends. It’s a mission bigger than the 60,000. But, it’s a mission that Christ set us apart (made us holy) to accomplish.
And, so, with dreams bigger than ourselves, we march on toward the manger. We march with full knowledge that on the other side of Christmas stands a cross. Yet, thankfully, our knowledge doesn’t end there. For we know that the on the other side of the cross sits an empty tomb.
And, on the other side of the empty tomb stands a Messiah with a command:
Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
— Matthew 28:18-20 (The Message)