When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” Luke 2:22-24 (NIV)
We talked last week about times in the Old Testament where God appeared in glory: at the Tabernacle the Israelites carried in the wilderness and at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple. (If you would like to read last week’s post, here is the link: (http://thedigitaldisciple.net/the-glory/.) The same glory surrounded the shepherds the night Jesus was born and caused fear and awe in the shepherds who saw it.
What would you expect if you knew this God of glory was coming back to earth, this time as a person? You would expect something out of a super hero movie, right? I would. I’d be looking for someone like Dwayne Johnson, except with hair and a beard. He would be wearing a royal robe, gold crown, and would walk right in to the temple like he owned he place. Which would be appropriate, because God did own the place. He would clean house by throwing out all the corrupt religious leaders and then he would grab the Roman occupiers by the neck, march them to the Judean border, and tell them never to come back. All the to roaring approval of the crowd of people who had gathered to watch. But, that’s not what happened. And, I think, that is why Jesus’ message has been so hard to accept. No one found Jesus to be what they had expected.
Some Jews of Jesus’ time expected the Messiah to be a king like David. He would be a powerful political leader who would rule the nation of Israel and free the Jewish people from the Roman occupiers. Others expected a religious show. Still others expected someone who followed perfectly the Jewish law as it had been interpreted over the thousand years before Jesus was born. Which is why they couldn’t understand why Jesus would touch people with leprosy, not perform ceremonial washings before he ate and stuff like that.
When God became human and returned to earth, he didn’t act the way people expected. Maybe because he knows us too well. If Jesus came as a powerful political leader, we would believe faith in God involves political power. If he had put on a traveling miracle show, we would we would be drawn to flashy signs and wonders and not to simple faith. And, if he had followed meticulosly the Law as the Jewish religious leaders had interpreted it, we would think the gospel requires religious perfection and not simple obedience.
So, what approach did God take and what can we learn from it? He appeared in weakness as a baby. When God entered the Temple this time it was not in glory, Mary and Joseph carried him in. We learned faith includes weakness and recognizing we can’t do it ourselves. Jesus performed miracles that made broken people whole. We learn the gospel includes healing and restoration. Jesus showed us that the way to God’s heart is through obedience, prayer, and humble service. We learned God is not looking for perfection, he is looking for people who follow the way Jesus taught and modeled for us.
Let me close the year with a blessing. In 2019, may you witness God’s glory in your life and grow in your relationship with Jesus.
To read this post on The Digital Disciple blog please go to: www.thedigitaldisciple.net. When you are there, you can sign up to receive the posts by e-mail. The other posts in this series are:
The Shepherds: http://thedigitaldisciple.net/the-shepherds/
The Angel: http://thedigitaldisciple.net/the-angel/
The Glory: http://thedigitaldisciple.net/the-glory/