Advent 19 - In Our Place

DAY 19 - In Our Place
1 John 4:7-12

There’s a third sign of God’s love hinted at in John’s opening. Those hints unfold as the Gospel goes on. But this sign is the crowning achievement of God’s love. V.11 says, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” 

Jesus was born a 1st c. Jew. His mission focused on the Jewish people. His disciples were Jewish. But most Jewish people did not see him for what he is or welcome him as God’s gift. In fact, some of their leaders conspired with Roman leaders to kill Jesus by crucifixion. Let’s be crystal clear: that does not make all Jewish people responsible for Jesus’s death on the cross. 

From the outside, Jesus’s death looks like a cruel injustice. But Jesus voluntarily offers himself because he sees purpose in his death. In John 1:29, John the Baptist “saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Looking ahead to the cross, Jesus says in John 12:31, “When I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” Jesus dies on the Day of Atonement during the Jewish Passover festival, implying he’s dying in the place of others. 1 John 4:10 calls Jesus’s voluntary death for us “an atoning sacrifice.”

Love is life-giving, Love is present, and love is generous. Jesus generously gives himself in our place.

Why? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16, NIV). Archbishop William Temple said, “This is the heart of the Gospel. Not ‘God is Love’... [but] ‘God so loved that He gave’”.

When has someone taken your place, to do something you would not or could not do for yourself?

God of grace, your eternal Word took flesh among us when Mary placed her life at the service of your will. Prepare our hearts for his coming again; keep us steadfast in hope and faithful in service, that we may receive the coming of his kingdom, for the sake of Jesus Christ the ruler of all, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. AMEN.
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