Coming in April – Lord, Teach Us To Pray, daily reflections on The Lord’s Prayer

Advent Devotional 2021 – December 1st

PRAYER

Take a moment to become still, aware of God’s presence, and then pray:

Loving Father, we thank you for the profound meaning and beauty of these days of Advent. In the midst of what can be a busy and hurried season we ask that you would calm our hearts and minds to be ready to receive. Reveal the glory of your beloved Son who dwelt among us to make us more like Him. Amen

REFLECTION

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures,  the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 1:1-4

Imagine my thrill a few years ago, standing at the doorway to the home that archeologists regard as the likely childhood home of our Lord Jesus. I stood there, gazing at the original chalk floor, struck by the earthy, everyday reality of our Savior’s life. The ancient house had been overlooked by archeologists until 2006 when they began poring over this first century dwelling constructed by cutting back a limestone hillside. Stone-built walls were then added to the limestone structure. Archeologists regard the quality of construction as indicating the sort of skills that might be expected of a tekton, “artisan/craftsman”, as Joseph was known (Matthew 13:55).

The simple home was typical of a shared courtyard structure with a rock stairway leading to a roof or perhaps a second floor. Artifacts from the home include broken cooking pots, a spindle for spinning thread, and limestone vessels proper for kosher law.

The house is well-preserved because it was revered by early Christians as the home where Jesus was raised. A church was built over the house called the “Church of the Nutrition”, meaning the nurturing or upbringing of Christ. (Ken Dark, The Sisters of Nazareth Convent: A Roman-Period Byzantine, and Crusader Site in Central Nazareth)

Dead Sea Scrolls and recent archeology give evidence of a small clan from King David’s family emigrating from Babylon to Galilee about 100 B. C. There they established a little village they named Nazara, or, Nazareth, meaning “Branch”. They had returned to the Promised Land in expectation of the coming of the “Branch”, the Messiah promised in Isaiah 11:1. (Bargil Pixner, With Jesus through Galilee according to the Fifth Gospel) Thus, Jesus was known as the “Nazorean” and a descendant, “the son of David” (Matthew 2:23; 1:1).

We see in today’s scripture that the apostle Paul is careful to connect the “gospel of God” to both the divinity and humanity of Jesus. Jesus’ deity is proved as He is “declared to be the Son of God” by His resurrection, and His humanity proved as He “was descended from David according to the flesh.” Here again, Paul uses the word “flesh” (Greek: sarx) to stand for “humanity in its frailty and mutability”. (F. W. Grant, The Crowned Christ) The Son of God really did throw in His lot with us!

Later in this letter to the Roman Christians Paul explains that God sent His Son on a rescue mission “in the likeness of sinful flesh (sarx), and to deal with sin” (Romans 8:3). Saint Augustine said it like this: “The Son of God assumed human nature, and in it he endured all that belongs to the human condition.” (Augustine, Sermon 185)

The eternal Son humbled Himself so that in His flesh He might stand in for us, acting in our place and on our behalf. By taking our humanity to Himself Jesus bound our lives together with His. Thus, acting as a full human being, “He offered to God a perfect confidence and trust, a perfect faith and response which we are unable to offer, and he appropriated all God’s blessings which we are unable to appropriate.” (Thomas Torrance, Theology in Reconstruction) Jesus lived the perfect human life we are meant to live.

We find early preachers of the Gospel careful to emphasize the full humanity of Jesus, saying, “What Christ has not assumed has not been healed.” (Gregory Nazianzen, Epistle 101) If there was any part of our humanity Jesus did not own and take to Himself then that part is not redeemed. Thus, “Jesus loved us. Jesus found us, embraced us, accepted us as we had become in the dastardly schemes of evil…His love drove Him to meet us as we are, and to become what we are. No fragment of our broken, guilt-ridden humanity could be lost.” (C. Baxter Kruger, God in the Hands of Angry Sinners)

I stood in wonder and amazement as I studied that simple first century home in little Nazareth! The Son of God let go the glories of heaven for this! How much He must love us!

WORSHIP

Think back over the past 24 hours and note when you experienced a “high” and a “low”. Share with God how the humanity of Jesus might speak to you in what you experienced.

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