The Sword that Cuts Through our Pretense: Devotional: March 14, 2022

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God always works things out perfectly, doesn’t He?  This is evident when God sent His Son to be born into the home of Mary and Joseph.  God didn’t just “luck out” that Jesus was born to this young couple.  God intentionally sent Him because they were faithful and obedient in their day-to-day lives and would raise Him in a godly way.

This was evident by their reaction to the angel’s message about the Christ-child’s coming.  In Matthew 1, we see Joseph described as a “just man” who obeyed God’s message in going through with his marriage to Mary.  We see in the days following that every time God told Joseph to go somewhere or to do something, he did it immediately (Matthew 2:13-14, 19-21). 

When the angel approached Mary and told her that she would conceive and bear a son, even though she had never known a man, she said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).  In their young life, they demonstrated a great and strong faith in God — making them wonderful parents to raise the child Jesus.

Their obedience continued even after Jesus was born.  Yes, He was God in the flesh, but even though He was the giver of the Law, He willingly put Himself in subjection to His earthly parents and to the Law of Moses.  How?

His circumcision.  In Genesis 17, God explains this to Abraham:

This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. … He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised (Genesis 17:10, 12a).

Why keep this?  Because this was an outward sign of an inward reality and relationship God established with His people.  To not follow through with this meant that this boy would be cut off from the people of God (Genesis 17:14).  Mary and Joseph complied with the Law at this point.

His name.  Mary and Joseph obeyed God’s messenger, Gabriel, when he said, “You shall call His name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).  God gave them this message plainly because it had Secondly, Jesus is a sign that is opposed.  All through Scripture, God gave many signs and wonders to His people to reveal Himself and His ways.  But Jesus Christ is the ‘sign’ to Israel that would truly point the way to God.  He is their Messiah.  And even though He is the sign from God, they even rejected this!

Lastly, we see a sword that would go through Mary’s heart.  The ultimate sign of rejection was the crowd at Jesus’ sentencing where they shouted “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”–although He had done nothing to deserve this.  Mary as His mother saw all the rejections and was present at Jesus’ crucifixion.  The sorrow that she felt watching helplessly as her own Son was crucified, writhing in agony, like a common criminal–this may have been what the Spirit meant.  This was the bad news about Jesus coming — so many would reject and persecute, to their own destruction.

But what was the reason for all this:

“So that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”  Make no mistake about it — no longer can people keep up a pretense by looking outwardly moral, outwardly righteous, outwardly spiritual.  In fact, there once was a man who made free use of Christian vocabulary. He talked about the blessing of the Almighty and the Christian confessions which would become the pillars of the new government. He assumed the earnestness of a man weighed down by historic responsibility. He handed out pious stories to the press, especially to the church papers. He showed his tattered Bible and declared that he drew the strength for his great work from it as scores of pious people welcomed him as a man sent from God. Indeed, Adolf Hitler was a master of outward religiosity–with no inward reality!

No more.  Jesus too is a sword as the Word of God who cuts through all the pretense, all the show, all the pride of those whose piety only extends as far as making sure others believe they are religious–all the while they go through their private life with little or no regard to living a life of true, sincere obedience toward God.

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