Advent, Week 4, Day 3 – Jesus, The Ransom Payer
Eight days after Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary took the baby to the temple in Jerusalem so he could be dedicated to the Lord, according to the Law. While there, they noticed an elderly man whose face was weathered, hair wispy and white. His appearance was nondescript, but his actions were anything but! As soon as this stranger spotted the baby, his limbs moved toward them as fast as his aged joints would allow; his eyes bright, and fixed on the child. As soon as he reached them, he scooped the baby into his arms and began to worship God:
29-31 “Lord,” he said, “now I can die content! For I have seen him as you promised me I would. I have seen the Savior you have given to the world. 32 He is the Light that will shine upon the nations, and he will be the glory of your people Israel!”
34-35 Simeon blessed them but then said to Mary, “A sword shall pierce your soul, for this child shall be rejected by many in Israel, and this to their undoing. But he will be the greatest joy of many others. And the deepest thoughts of many hearts shall be revealed.”
Mary and Joseph may not have understood all Simeon was alluding to, but I am certain his words encouraged them. He understood who this amazing baby was; so they weren’t alone!
I wonder, though, 33 years later, as Mary stood at the foot of the cross watching her beloved son die, if she remembered that conversation years before, as she felt that very sword pierce her soul.
The cross is the real reason Jesus came. It was the price needed to be paid as the ransom for our treason against a holy God.
I did say “treason”.
In the garden, Adam and Eve were offered the freedom to choose between God’s way and their own. They were warned that going any other way than God’s would result in death, for God is only good, so anything outside of him is evil. His world at that time knew only good, but God gave man freedom of choice because he wanted relationship, not servitude.
Mankind chose their own way, for the ability to be able to “choose” between good and evil. Their decision immediately shackled the world to pain and anguish, as suddenly evil flooded in. They chose their own way, but paid dearly. We too often choose our own way, with similar consequences.
The most amazing gift of Christmas isn’t that Jesus came, or that he became one of us, but that he did it to restore all that had been destroyed by us. Only God could offer such a gift, and only a perfect, unrelentingly loving God would choose to pay the price.
Jesus has gone to all lengths to restore us. That’s the Christmas story in a nutshell.
Jesus offers his gift of restoration freely to any who would choose to go his way rather than their own. We must choose whether to accept or reject it. It’s our choice.