Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Introduced the Divine Refuge

Matthew 1:21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Yesterday we talked about the cities of refuge in Numbers 35; Deuteronomy 19 and Joshua 20.  We noted how these cities function to picture Jesus Christ, the Saving Refuge for the sinner and the abiding refuge for the saint.  Six cities had been designated by God, three on each side of the Jordon River, easily accessible to anyone who had unintentionally killed somebody.  The Law of Retribution, existing from the days following the flood, gave allowance for relatives (termed avengers) of accidentally killed victims to pursue and excecute the manslayer (who had committed involuntary manslaughter).   We noted parallels in that Christ is the Ultimate Refuge sent by God for us to flee to from the justice of His Law. (Romans 8:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Hebrews 6:18) 

In light of yesterday's post, I felt it fitting to connect the Christmas season to this theme of Jesus Christ the Divine Refuge.  Today I want us to consider briefly five episodes in the Christmas narratives that highlight how various people responded in their introduction to the Divine Refuge, Jesus Christ.

1. Mary and Joseph. Matthew 1:21-23 Jesus is the Saving Refuge
Why was Jesus named "Jesus"? The scripture tells us that He was named "Jesus", since the name signifies His mission: to save His people from their sins.  Mary and Joseph were made aware of the significance of the child conceived in her virgin womb.  The other name "Immanuel" reveals the fact that this Saving refuge was to be the Divine Saving Refuge in human flesh - i.e "God with us".

2. The Shepherds. Luke 2:8-20. Jesus was to be the joyful Refuge
The Shepherds were considered the lowest rung on the Jewish social ladder. Despite the fact that not even their word was accepted as testimony in a court of law, they still had the responsibility of raising the sheep used in the annual Jewish sacrifices.  It was in their bleak existence that they received word of the Savior's arrival.  The darkness of night was sliced open by floods of angelic light.  The Shpeherds were told the most joyful news: The Savior, the Divine Refuge, had been born.  To these Shepherds, in running to see the One born as God in human flesh, Jesus was instantly their Joyful Refuge.

3. Simeon. Luke 2:21-25. Jesus was to be The Comforting Refuge.
An aged man, looking for the consolation of Israel, found what he was looking for.  Though he walked among the temple grounds, the grandeur of the temple was not his comfort.  Though He saw the flowing robes of priests, yet their religion could not satisfy his soul.  His eyes were growing dim, his steps were growing slow.  A young couple came into his view, holding an infant boy, just eight days old.  Simeon, whose name in the Hebrew means "he heard", knew that His faith was being made sight.  There was Jesus, His comforting refuge.  Now the old man could go and rest in peace, having the vision of God incarnate ever burned onto his memory.

4. Anna. Luke 2:36-38. Jesus was to be the Fulfilling Refuge
Anna's husband had died.  She was a widow of many years.  She was a woman who found her fulfillment in serving the Lord in the temple.  Yet when she layed eyes upon the little child in Mary and Joseph's care, her fulfillment in service was eclipsed by the fulfillment of beholding her Master.  Jesus was her fulfilling refuge.

5. The Wisemen. Matthew 2:1-2. Jesus was to be their Royal Refuge
It took them two years to reach Jesus, but finally they arrived in Bethlehem.  By this point Jesus was a toddler, living in a home in Bethlehem with his parents, Mary and Joseph.  When these kings saw the one whose star they had been following, no other king compared to this small boy.  Heaven's true king was in their midst.  They bowed to the ground, knowing that the one before them was the Royal Refuge of salvation.

My prayer today dear friend would be that Jesus Christ is your Saving, Joyful, Comforting, Fulfilling and Royal Refuge. 

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