Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Today's Advent Passage: Isaiah 52:13-15

Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. Just as many were astonished at you, My people, So His appearance was marred more than any man And His form more than the sons of men. Thus He will sprinkle many nations, Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; For what had not been told them they will see, And what they had not heard they will understand. (Isaiah 52:13-15 NASB)

Jesus, the Messiah. Born to reign - but first, to suffer and die. Born to be high and lifted up and greatly exalted -- but only after having His appearance marred more than any man.

The myrrh in the wise men's gifts is in many ways the odd element. The gold and frankincense, gifts fit for a king, make sense. But myrrh was a spice used in burial rituals. Why present this to a newborn child, especially one worshipped by the wise men as the promised King of the Jews?

It's a reminder tucked into the middle of the joyous birth story that Jesus' first advent, his first coming, would be marked by His death. Indeed, on the cross Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrrh - a fitting framing of his life, beginning and ending with the idea that His death was God's plan all along ... as was His resurrection and ultimate eternal reign.

The blood shed when He was marred more than any man is for the nations. Like the sacrificial offerings of the Old covenant, Jesus' blood sprinkles those who draw close enough to the cross to experience its redemptive power. And when we are sprinkled with His blood, then we see and understand more than we could ever be told in mere words -- we begin to see the beauty in the presence of myrrh at the manger.

(from We Three Kings)
Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb


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