Return, O faithless children,
declares the Lord;
for I am your master;
I will take you, one from a city and two from a family,
and I will bring you to Zion.
“‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. And when you have multiplied and been fruitful in the land, in those days, declares the Lord, they shall no more say, “The ark of the covenant of the Lord.” It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again. At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart.’” Jeremiah 3:14-17 ESV
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. John 1:14, 16-18 ESV
Grace loved playing with her dolls. She had some beautiful baby dolls, and also doll strollers, dishes and bottles, lots of doll clothes, cribs and high chairs, and even a doll bathtub. She spent hours playing mother to her baby dolls, giving the baths, feeding them, dressing them, pushing them around in strollers, rocking and singing to them, and putting them into their cribs for naps. But in time Grace started to grow up. Her dolls and other toys were put into boxes and some of them were given away. She became a young lady and got married, and soon had babies of her own. She didn’t miss her dolls at all, or even think about them, because she had real babies to take care of. They were much more wonderful than her dolls had ever been.
The prophet Jeremiah talked to the people about the ark of the covenant. It was at the ark, in the most holy place of the temple, that the Lord was there for his people in a special way. But one day the ark would be lost, perhaps destroyed by enemies, and that would be a sad day for God’s people. But Jeremiah promised that a day was coming when God would take his weak and scattered people and bring them back to their land, and give them good shepherds to rule and take care of them. Even better than that, God himself would be the ruler in Jerusalem, and he would bring all nations to himself. The Lord would be present for his people in such a wonderful way that they wouldn’t miss or even think about the ark of the covenant that they had lost.
Jesus was God himself come to his people people as a human person that they could see and touch, who could talk to them and teach them the ways of God. He wasn’t the kind of king they were expecting, but he was a wonderful, loving shepherd who gave his life for his people. Jesus died on the cross so that the sins of all people could be forgiven, and his love and forgiveness aren’t only for the people of Israel. Jesus gave his life so that people from all nations could come to him and be part of his kingdom. Jesus is the presence of God for us, now and always.
Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to us and giving your life for us so that we could be your people forever. Amen.