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The Fourth Sundat in Advent (12/19/2021)

Ps. 80:1-7; Micah 5:2-5a; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-56

Body, Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings Thou hast not desired, but a body Thou hast prepared for me… Then I said, ‘Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God!’” (vv. 5, 7a).

Here, we over-hear Christ conversing with his Father about his “body” (cf. Ps. 40:6-8) adored by the church now and on our up-coming Nativity celebration, the Christmas Babe in flesh and blood out of Mary.

A body assumed by the only Son of God, an all-sufficient sacrifice for sin; the sin of unbelief, the sins of flesh, heart, and mind: offered to God on the cross and returned to men to make us holy.

The Nativity celebrates our joining angelic choirs in the Gloria in Excelsis Deo on the Child’s arrival with men, in whose body God is pleased to bestow favor (Lk. 2:14).

Today we attend a final preparation in Advent for receiving God’s Light into the world. Our focus shifts from JB to Mary’s carriage of Jesus. The un-birthed leaping JB with his mother Elizabeth, were first worshippers of the Child. The Baptist would initialize the HS upon Jesus in the Jordan to conclude in his crucified body (Jn. 19:30).

Mary filled with Jesus being fashioned in her, greeted cousin Elizabeth, who intoned toward Mary and her Child, “Blest are you among women and blest is the Fruit of your womb” (Lk. 1:42).

Mary is blest because she believed Gabriel’s angelic word, The Lord is with you” (v. 28b) by the Spirit’s overshadow (v. 35a). The source of Mary’s blessing is her womb’s Fruit who “will be holy (v. 35b) by whom all men receiving him are made holy.

For nine-months, Mary was ark who bore the Holy One of God, coming to Elizabeth and the unborn “Baptist”. No wonder Elizabeth marveled: “And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (v. 43).

JB heralded Jesus, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29, 36). God in Christ, submitting to a crucified death, annihilated the gap of holiness between Himself and men otherwise destined for obliteration on account of sin.

A thousand years earlier King Saul improvidently employed the ark in battle against the Philistines, who captured the place of Presence for a curse.

The Philistines wanted to be rid of the ark; sending it in a “new cart” into Israelite territory. When the ark arrived at Beth-shemesh, the inhabitants rejoiced. But they abused it and God killed seventy men.

The Israelites of Beth-schemesh cried, “Who is able to stand in the presence of Yahweh, this holy God?” (1 Sam. 6:20a). The ark was then taken to Kiriath-jearim in Ephrathah of David’s ancestry, where it remained many years.

David, having succeeded Saul as king and having captured the Jebusite stronghold of Jerusalem, believed the ark’s proper place was the City of David.

David instructed the ark brought to Jerusalem. Again, it was mishandled in transport contrary to Mosaic regulation. Uzzah, a non-Levite, unauthorized to provide carriage or touch the ark, attempted to steady it and was struck dead.

God’s holiness is ultimately serious; it will not and cannot be adulterated or corrupted; consider this the next time your Pastor exercises the church’s practice of “closed communion”.

Good intentions aside, one must understand, then and today, the distance between sinful men and God’s holiness; thus, Mosaic boundaries, for man’s protection, absolutely prohibited direct contact with Divine presence.

David had been right to fear the Lord’s holy presence; despairing, “How can the ark of Yahweh ever come to me?” (2 Sam. 6:9). The answer: unholy men can never safely come into the presence of holy God; unless he comes in grace and mercy, the very point of Jesus come in the flesh of men.

David, afraid of the Lord’s holiness, diverted the ark to the house of Obed-edom, which was blessed by the Lord. Three months hence word reached David of the blessing on Obed-edom; at which he arranged for the ark’s proper liturgical transport, joyously leaping before the Lord into Jerusalem.

Such was Israel’s life under Mosaic law prescribing repeating sacrifices, buffers against sin; strict compliance, no excuses. So too, it is the NT way in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

In Christ we die with him and raised to God; apart from him we eternally die. Jesus’ body buffers and expunges against sin; in Baptism we are assumed into his holiness as he assumed our body.

John, the last and greatest prophet, announced the OT’s conclusion in Christ for God’s promises of grace and mercy written into hearts; that all know God in the forgiveness of our iniquity, he remembers our sin no more, forever (Jer. 31:33).

The good news of Mary’s delivery of God’s body knit in her womb for sacrifice is cause for leaping worship; God’s own flesh and blood born to his perfect will, the man Jesus, Immanuel.

Every Lord’s Day, before the Service of the Sacrament; and at our Concluding rite, I speak the words of Gabriel to Mary, “The Lord be with you” (Lk. 1:28). This is no pleasantry; rather it signifies God’s real, touchable, indwelling presence with you by word and Sacrament.

In Advent we lament our sin, “mea maxima culpa” (through my most grievous fault), and yet we are aware of coming joy. Soon, at his Supper we handle in sinful hands the holy body and blood of Jesus, Eucharistically making us one in Christ who presents us in his body, holy to his and our Father.

In the coming of the Christmas Babe, God has revealed his pleasure with men who participate in his Son’s body to favor men. Amen.


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