Reading through the Scriptures with this probing question: "How did this impact Jesus?" has really pushed me this year. I am amazed at how careful detail was given by God himself to write a story in order to train up His child in the way He should go. The law in the writings of Moses have really taken on a whole new meaning to me as I see them as a training manual for Jesus to learn, memorize, meditate on, and then implement in His life. What Impact it had and how amazing that God went to great lengths to prepare it for His child who would one day be born the Savior of His people. I hope you are enjoying as I attempt to listen and learn through the impact it had on Jesus.
In Leviticus 12, a very short chapter for this book, there is the law of what a new mother was to offer on the 8th day of her child's birth. The child was to be presented to the priest and then a lamb offered as a burnt offering and then a pigeon and dove for a sin offering. However, there is an exception for a woman who cannot afford a lamb, she had to bring two pigeons and two doves.
In Luke 2:24, we see this law obeyed by Joseph and Mary. They bring Jesus to the priest to be circumcised and they make their offering, a pair of pigeons and doves. In other words, Mary and Joseph could not afford the lamb. They were poor, struggling to get by, and all they had to offer to concentrate the Lamb of God was 4 birds.
I imagine the day Jesus heard this story as a boy. He would have listened to the reading of this and then possibly run to his parents and ask them about the lamb they took in for him. Then Mary and Joseph, still wrestling through life, would tell him of that day and how they could only afford the birds. As time goes by, I am certain Jesus would have dealt with teasing because of their lack of worldly wealth. I am sure he struggled with being made fun of, but how else could he learn the value of seeking Gods kingdom first if his life in this one was one of comfort and ease. After all "it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven!"
As Jesus grew in his wisdom of God and begin to ask his Father about "why" his life here on earth took such a troubled path, he began to see "Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are the hungry. Blessed are those who weep and those who are hated! Rejoice, for great is your reward in heaven!"
As Jesus grew in wisdom and favor, he realized he was allowed to suffer all types of suffering here on earth as the Son of God because he too had to learn that this is not the kingdom we are to live for, but rather the kingdom of God. His Father allowed his parents to be poor, hungry, despised, and rejected, and therefore allowing him to "endure all things like us" so that Jesus himself would be taught to seek first Gods Kingdom. And all this he learned first from two pigeons and two doves used to consecrate him on the eighth day of his life.
Admittedly, today's reading proved challenging on the surface when looking into impact on Jesus as he grew in his wisdom and knowledge. I know everything written was for a purpose in preparing him for his work, but what about Leviticus 13-14 and the instructions regarding skin rashes and mildew. On the surface it seems heavy handed with the priest determining the depth of the skin issue or extent of the mildew problem. There is isolation for the person , clothes, or house involved and if determined to be infectious or spreading, there was the time of complete separation for the person and destruction for clothes and houses. What is it that could possibly have soaked into Jesus as he listened, read, and learned from these writings of Moses?
Then I looked at it from the priest aspect. The priest was given the difficult task of making the determination of the depth of the issue and then deciding how to deal with it. Was it just a surface problem that a bath could cure, or, was there need for separation, destruction, or a complete rebuild (as in the case of the house.)
As Jesus grew in his understanding of who he was and what he came to do, he could see that the issue with sin, law, and religious activity was not merely surface issues. They had grown deep and like a skin disease of spreading mildew, they were destroying his people from the inside out. He had 30 plus years to inspect the situation and determine that a mere isolation or tearing out pieces was not going to do. The disease, the mildew had gone too deep and it had to be cast out and called unclean. He would have to "tear down the temple" and rebuild it again.
God the Father, Son, and Spirit had created in love and loved their creation. Their heart longed to enjoy fellowship with the ones created in their own image. They desired for us to experience the rich depths of their love, yet that fellowship was broken. The surface sin had led to our isolation from one another and the spread of the infectious disease of unbelief and selfishness had brought us to the point of complete destruction.
Yet, as a man who was no longer infected by the disease was to shave his entire body and present himself along with an offering of a lamb and a house that was torn down was to be rebuilt. Jesus learned he would humble himself (the shaving of the entire body was humiliating like him setting aside his glory for human flesh) and would present himself as the offering, and through his sacrifice, the "temple" of God dwelling with his people could be rebuilt and as our priest, he could again present us to the Lord as pure and holy, worthy of His love and to love Him in return.
Leviticus 15 "These are the regulations for a man with a discharge, for anyone made unclean by an emission, for a woman in her monthly period, for a man or woman with a discharge. . ."
To be honest I would prefer to skip over this part and not think about how this impacted Jesus. For some it is just too uncomfortable. What possible meaning could this passage have for Jesus, the man who knew no sin? (2 Corinthians 5:21) Jesus himself declared that he was not here to destroy the law ( which this is a part of) but to fulfill it completely (Matthew 5:17-18.) He himself abided by the law as God intended it to be abided by! So how could this impact Jesus? How did this affect him?
As I looked through this, the words "whoever touches the man with a discharge," or "whoever touches them will be unclean" and they were required to "take a bath and wash their clothes" stood out to me. Jesus was surrounded by the "unclean." The lepers, the sick, men who went months away from their wives, and specifically the lady in Luke 8. It was no mistake that as I read Leviticus 15 that I was thinking of this particular lady and then I turned to my regularly scheduled reading in Luke today and there she was. 12 years with a flow of blood (Leviticus 15:25-27) this lady was "unclean" and she reaches up and touches Jesus' clothes. No wonder she wanted to hide, her actions would have made Jesus' clothes unclean. In essence, she was transferring her own uncleanness on Jesus in hopes of being healed. She knew the rules, she knew she was unclean. Jesus also knew the rules and he was determined to keep his way pure. Though Jesus knew no sin, did not sin, he was constantly surrounded by and even touching those the law of Moses said were unclean. That meant Jesus had to bathe and wash his clothes and remain alone continuously. Yet, these were the ones he came for! The sick, the dying, those with discharges, emissions, and flows of blood. He came to make what was unclean CLEAN. To do so, he had to take the uncleanness upon himself.
Again, as I think this through, knowing Jesus both touched the unclean and was touched by them, how could He possibly keep himself pure and holy, without defect, in a world where he would be surrounded by such uncleanness? He prayed the prayer in Psalm 119:9-16
9. How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare
all the rules[a] of your mouth.
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
Today I am struck with even a deeper reality of how deeply Jesus loved me! He knew before he came that even he would be subject to this law that he wrote and that in ALL things, even Leviticus 15, he would have to both obey and then fulfill the law! He was raised with a mother and sisters who were ceremonially unclean. He was raised with a dad and brothers who would experience discharges. He would have to take many bathes and wash many clothes in his life to abide by the law. He would have to fully trust each step to be guarded along the way and when he gave of himself to touch or be touched by the unclean, he would then go and cleanse his flesh and clothes according to the law and physically display the reality of what he did for me! He took on my uncleanness, bore the filth of who I am, my discharges of selfishness, pride, and anger. He bore my emissions of impurity, unrighteousness, and unbelief. He took them upon himself, then bathed himself in his own blood on the cross so that I could be like that woman, healed, pure, and righteous in his Fathers eyes.
What a Savior!
Leviticus 18 opens up with this: 1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. 3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. 5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.
Such a clear word directly to Jesus who came out of Egypt, who had come to live in Canaan and was surrounded by many unholy practices each day. This was a clear instruction to Jesus not to "follow their practices" but to "follow God's decrees." There really is no grey here, but rather a plain black and white directive.
However, the next 18 verses goes directly into speaking about sexual impurity and what sexual relations not to involve yourself in. Reading through them, most just seem disgusting and some turn my stomach. However, these directives were given because they were practices taking place both in Egypt and in the land of Canaan. What's more, each of these are directives Jesus would have been taught to follow and obey.
Now, thinking of Jesus and "sexual relations" really pushes my paradigm. I would prefer to type discuss chapter 17 this morning and the life in the blood. However, it is this passage that really jumped at me this morning as having a huge impact on Jesus.
Most likely, like in our day, this passage would have been discussed with Jesus at an appropriate age for him to understand. Like any growing boy, Jesus would have had questions about this area of life. When he and Joseph sat down to discuss this passage, I see lots of questions born out of curiousness. Why would God tell Moses to write down these directives? Wouldn't it just be assumed you would not commit such perverse acts? Jesus would have asked what sexual relations were. The often most dreaded question any dad faces (and most avoid) with their son. But Jesus had to be taught these things and he had to know about them! Why?
Because he would face enormous temptations, even in this area of life. Jesus was surrounded by sinners and was known as a friend of prostitutes. Sexual temptation would have been a constant battle before him, and here his Father wrote out a clear and very in depth order of what NOT to do. Because disobedience in this area of life would lead to being "cut off from their people." In Jesus' case, this would have meant eternal separation from His Father and the Spirit. As it says in verse 28, the land would have "vomited" him out!
In other words, this was a clear reminder to Jesus not to give in to the pleasures this kingdom had to offer him. These pleasure would be a temporary satisfaction for a momentary longing, but the price in His case would be eternal separation from God. Jesus witnessed these sins as he walked among us and he saw the destruction they caused, not only to the people, but according to this passage, the land itself suffered as well. So as he walked with us in the middle of our perverse activities, He would face temptation, but would remember these words:
“‘Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people. Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the Lord your God.’” Leviticus 18:29-30
Praise God that he knew Jesus would face these trials and temptations as a man like me and He would impact him early in life with this clear and direct order so that Jesus would have clear instruction to follow so that the life found in the blood of his sacrifice would be holy and acceptable to God.
What a Savior. What a God! What Love!
Leviticus 19 opens up with a word from God to His people, "Be Holy because I, the Lord your God am holy!" This is quite an opening statement here and I imagine as Jesus grew in his understanding, this phrase would have resonated in his heart. His desperate desire was to please his Father and to fellowship with Him. Here, God has told him the requirement for his passion to become a reality. Then it is followed by a long list Of what it take to be holy starting with respecting your parents.
I imagine this is the phrase Jesus thought of at the age of 12 as he stood there in the temple and Mary and Joseph are confronting him for causing them three days of anxiety and stress. His heart longed to be with his true Father, but for that to happen, he must remain holy by respecting and obeying his mother and father (interestingly placed in that order in Scripture). As he considered this passage, he chose to be obedient to his Heavenly Father by committing himself to honor his earthly parents.
Then the list carries on with the things a holy person is to do, with a lot of attention to treating others. Selflessness seems to be a key component to following these commands to be holy. Choosing to think more of others and not only of yourself. Leaving some harvest for others to glean. Not stealing, lying, or deceiving others. Not defrauding them. Treating the deaf and blind kindly, not slandering, not endangering another's life. Not hating, and lovingly rebuking those who have forsaken the law. All of course wrapped up in the sum of it all, "love your neighbor as yourself" Lev 19:18.
We even see Jesus seeing the need to Loving those who are not like us, or even our enemies in v33-34 when God commanded to love the alien as you love yourself "for you were once an alien in Egypt!"
As Jesus soaked all this in and even chapter 20 where it lost the punishment of failing to be holy as death, he surely felt the weight of it all. How could he, as a young boy and man keep himself perfectly pure/holy as God was holy in such an unholy place? How could he avoid stumbling and falling? How could he ever enjoy a pure, unbroken fellowship with His holy Father? How could he make it back to where his heart longed to be? How could he make it possible for God to dwell with his people in the middle of all this uncleanness and unholy acts? How could he possibly remain as a Lamb without defect?
By remaining solely dependent on His Father to make his hearts desire a reality!
Leviticus 20:7 "Set yourself apart for Me, to be holy because I Am the Lord your God! Keep my decrees (all of them) and follow them. I Am the Lord, WHO MAKES YOU HOLY!"
Jesus knew after reading the laws he was incapable on his own to stay pure and holy. His flesh was too weak in and of itself. His will power would not carry him through. He knew if he was to "Be Holy" like God, then he would have to daily set himself apart, placing his life fully in the hands of God his Father, and trust His Father to "make him holy."
What a moment of impact this must have been for Jesus and what a beautiful picture for us as we strive to be holy like Jesus. Our only hope is to set ourselves apart and then ask Hod to do what only He can, to "make us holy!"