December 13: Obedient Joy!
December 13, 2015
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
by Josh Moody Each year our family has a tradition of opening one Advent Bible reading starting on December 1 and finishing on Christmas Day, December 25. This year I am sharing those Bible readings with some thoughts based on them for use as a devotional during this season. To receive these Advent readings directly in your inbox, sign up here. Luke 2:21-24:
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. 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.”Mary and Joseph proceed to do what parents of their religious convictions at their time did. Jesus is circumcised in the normal way. And then he is taken to the temple, according to the “Law of the Lord.” It is often said that the sacrifice chosen (“a pair of doves or two young pigeons”) indicates that they were poor. What is interesting about all of this from our point of view is how careful Mary and Joseph are to obey the Law. There is no sense that their family were “radicals” or that Jesus was being set up to challenge the institution in the sense of overturn the prevailing Word of God. No, as Jesus himself would frequently insist, he had not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. Jesus was the right understanding of the Law in his own person, and now he (and his family) were living life in every way to fulfill all the requirements of the Law so that Jesus could be the perfectly righteous person, live the perfectly righteous life, and die the perfectly righteous death, for unrighteous people like you and me. We can take comfort, then, from the fact that Jesus fulfilled the Law. He lived the perfect life and died the perfect death so that imperfect people might, through faith in him, be declared righteous before God because of him and his own perfect life. What a comfort this is at Christmas! Christmas, with all its expectations of a “perfect” house, and a “perfect” family, and a “perfect” present or gift, a “perfect” Christmas tree. And in the perfections of Christ, our imperfections are covered, and we can be free to be who we truly are. Not, of course, that we should not strive to improve and do better in life. However imperfect finally our achievements may be, we still must aim to do all we can for Christ and his kingdom. But because of Christ’s “perfections,” we can serve in freedom – without guilt, with joy, and with great peace. It also reminds us of the need for us all to obey God’s Law. Sometimes its prescriptions may not make sense to us. We might wish that God had said something different, or required something easier than a “trip to the temple,” or a membership of a church, or a faithfulness to a troublesome relationship at home. But, in humility, recognizing the humility of Christ and of Christ’s family in this instance, we too can humble ourselves under God so that in due time he will lift us up. We submit to one another out of reverence of Christ. We do the right thing, according to what God tells us in his Word, because Christ himself submitted to the Law, and we do it with joyful confidence because Christ’s joyful faithfulness covers our own unrighteous failures. Sometimes such obedience feels like a “sacrifice” too. But it is a sacrifice that leads to Christmas joy!
Good Christian friends, rejoice With heart and soul and voice Now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save Calls you one and calls you all To gain His everlasting hall Christ was born to save Christ was born to save]]>
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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