DayBreaks for 8/08/14 – Could You Build Me a Temple?
Isaiah 66:1-2 (NLT) This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that? Could you build me such a resting place? My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the LORD, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, the city of Nazareth boasted the whopping population of maybe 300 at most. To call it a city is a misnomer of the first magnitude. Yet, it was his home, where he grew up to adulthood, where he learned the trade of carpentry. He must have played the first-century version of kick-the-can with the neighborhood kids. He knew everyone and everyone knew him (at least they thought they did!)
The archaeological work to uncover the ruins of Nazareth at the time of Jesus have shown that there was only one synagogue there in those days. That’s not surprising given the small size of the population. So, on my recent trip there, we visited the synagogue where Jesus spoke these words from the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
While in Nazareth, I visited the small, 14th century Crusader church that was built on top of the synagogue where Jesus spoke those words. It is a very small, humble place. If anything, it must be grander than the synagogue of Jesus’ day. And as I stood in that quiet, holy place, I was struck by the wonder that a building, even one made of stone as the present church is constructed, could contain the Creator of the universe. That he should come to such a humble place, enter through the door and be contained by its four walls impressed on me how truly humble Jesus was/is. Who would have thought that any building constructed by human hands could serve as host to God?
But then I was struck by the even more incredulous thought: how could human flesh hold in the Spirit of Almighty God? Therein lies one of the great teachings and beliefs of Christianity: that God did become flesh and dwelt among us.
As the people of Nazareth watched him come to synagogue as a toddler and later an adolescent then a young man, they thought they knew who he was. He looked like anyone else in the village. Isaiah would suggest that there was nothing, absolutely nothing, in his appearance that would have tipped his true identity to one staring into his face.
And it made me wonder: if I’d grown up in Nazareth, would I have fared any better at recognizing his true identity, or would I have rejected him, too? Would you?
PRAYER: That you should have walked among us unrecognized is such an amazing testimony to your humility, Jesus. Thank you, though, for venturing out of heaven’s gates to a dusty, dingy little town in a backwater far from the religious leaders to learn what it is like to be human! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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