There once was an island off of the coast of New Zeland which was populated by sheep. Now these sheep were a rather skiddish lot. One year, a terrible drought threatened to wipe out the grass. In that year, a genie appeared. He promised the sheep three wishes if the sheep would turn over the island to him. With one wish, the grass was restored. Only now, the island was ruled by the genie. He was a terrible king, and would regularly feast on the sheep.
Then one day, a shepherd arrived on the island. When he learned of the situation, he offered to buy back the island. After reading through the lawbooks, the genie laughed. "The law says that only a sheep may buy back the island! And don't think giving them your money will work, because I'll know whose money it is."
So the shepherd had the sheep make a second wish. They wished him to be transformed into a sheep. But the genie still would not sell back the island. "You are not a true sheep!" he scoffed. "You are a man in a sheep's body!"
So the shepherd made the third wish. He wished to be born and raised as a lamb. He lived as a sheep, and when the time came for him to redeem the island, the genie could not refuse him, for now he was truly a sheep. The genie was forced to give back the island and the sheep lived happily ever after.
Although the preceding story may seem a little bit silly, we face a very similar situation. Despite the lovely furry faces the majority of us are wearing today, the fact is that we are all members of a very special species. We are humans. If not in appearance, at least in spirit. We were given the Earth to be its caretakers. We were to be its rulers, its servants, and the representatives of God to this world. But we botched it. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and forfeit the rights to His creation. And not only them. Every successive generation has been engaging in exactly the same thing. Romans 3:23 tells us that. All of us have sinned.
Since that day, Satan and His demons have been running rampant over the Earth. The entirety of creation has suffered. The ground began producing stones. The sea started getting salty. The atmosphere turned violent. Man's communion with nature, with the animals, and with God was cut off. Since then, all creation was been suffering, waiting and groaning, anticipating the day of redemtion.
Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.But who is going to redeem the world?
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
God put something very interesting into Israeli law in the book of Leviticus. In 25:25, we read...
Leviticus 25:25 If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.If anyone sold his land, a relative could come and buy it back for him. This person was known as the "kinsman redeemer". And it was very important that he be a relative. Otherwise, the land would technically become the property of another family.
Jesus became a human for many reasons. To be able to identify and sympathise with us, to be our high priest, but one of the biggest reasons was so that He could be our kinsman redeemer. It was humans who lost the world. It had to be a human that redeemed it.
In Revelation, John is standing in Heaven in his vision. God is on His throne and in His right hand is the deed to creation. (5:1) It is sealed with seven seals. In the Israrelite tradition, it is only the redeemer who is permitted to open the seals and reclaim the deed. So an angel calls out for one who is worthy to break the seals and open the scrolls. Of course, no one can be found. It was sin which lost us the world, and every one of us has sinned. At this, John began to cry. But then someone pointed out that someone had come forward to open the scroll. It was Jesus, of course! And when He opened the seals, a time of cleansing came upon the Earth such as has never been seen before.
So the next time you look at the baby lying in a manger, remember that this baby grew up, lived, died, rose again, and became the kinsman redeemer who not only saves US from Hell, but will one day set right the entirety of creation.
Today is the last Saturday of Advent. So let us light the candles on the wreath and as we do, remember what we have learned about our precious Jesus.
(lights the first candle)
Great is our king, the Lion of Judah.
(lights the second candle)
Holy is our God, the Eagle of Heaven.
(lights the third candle)
Exalted is the servant, the Ox of Golgotha.
(lights the fourth candle)
Wonderful is our redeemer, the Son of Man.
One of the most important things to remember about our redeemer is HOW he has redeemed us. It is with the shedding of His blood that He has paid our ransom. Our Lord has given us a very simple ceremony to remind us of the sacrifice He made until He comes again. Some may call this eucharist. Some the Lord's table. Some Communion. It doesn't matter what you call it. It doesn't even matter how often we do it, as long as we are obedient to Jesus' command. Naturally, I am unable to provide the elements of the communion table, so we will pause for a few minutes to allow everyone to gather their own bread and wine/juice.
On the night that He was betrayed, Jesus took some bread...
1 Corinthians 11:24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.(eat bread)
25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.(drink cup)
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.
Pastor Oren Otter
December 23, 2006
Today's reading: Luke 2:1-20
2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.