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Love “Look, the days are coming” --this is the LORD’s declaration-- “when I will raise up a Righteous Branch for David. He will reign wisely as king and administer justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. This is the name he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness. “Look, the days are coming” --the LORD’s declaration-- “when it will no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives who brought the Israelites from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the land of the north and from all the other countries where I had banished them.’ They will dwell once more in their own land.”

In John 11, a family beloved by Jesus is in mourning. Lazarus has died. Mary and Martha had sent for their Lord, expecting him to heal his dear friend. Rather, Jesus arrives in His own timing and meets the family amidst their sorrow. After speaking with Mary and Martha, Jesus approaches the tomb of Lazarus. Here he stands, observing that great consequence of Adam’s sin, and weeps. “So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ (v 36)” Truly, Christ did love Lazarus. He loved him as only the Incarnate God could. A few short words from the mouth of Jesus and Lazarus’ body was filled with life and strength. Imagine the expressions of love that overtook the mourning in that moment! Perhaps some of the same Jews re-emphasized their words, “See how he loved him!” How indeed. Not long after, Jesus entered Jerusalem where His love for Lazarus, His love for the world would be unmistakably displayed in his own death. “But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Certainly, Lazarus’ resurrection to this earthly life was a gift of extraordinary measure, but even that gift was a signpost shadow of what Christ would provide. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, emphasis added). The gift of Lazarus’ earthly life would eventually end again. However, as Jesus told Martha, “‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she told him, ‘I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world’” (John 11:25-26). Many years before, the weeping prophet spoke of a Messiah who would arise, gather God’s people from the lands of their banishment, and return them to their own land. Jeremiah described this “Righteous Branch for David” (Jeremiah 23:5) as One who would shepherd His flock into safety and security. This Good Shepherd did come and chose to “lay down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). More than leading His people back into an earthly land of promise, His sacrifice and resurrection guaranteed the promise of life in a new heaven and new earth where “God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4). “See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are!” (1 John 3:1) Do you see how he loved us, how he loved you? This Advent season, declare with the Apostle John, “Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another” (1 John 4:11). Love that is sacrificial, unconditional, without favoritism or expectation of a return. It is that extraordinary love, the love of our Lord, that will remain when all else fades (1 Corinthians 13).

Jeremiah 23:5-8

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