Of course we want to sweat and swell and struggle and show off. What is quietly waiting right in front of us. Take off your armor, God essentially tells Naaman. Yes, all of it. Yes, even though people are watching. Now step into that muddy water. Yes, it smells.
9 Reasons We Know Christ Is Returning - Bible Study
Yes, it's tepid. In you go. All the way in? Now wash. Okay, wash again. And again and again and again and again. Wash until your need to buy or earn or impress or demand or manipulate or control your way into my healing presence is washed downriver for good. Let all of that hardship go. Choose the easy thing. Consider the instructions he gives his disciples before he sends them on their way: Carry no purse or sandals. Speak peace when you enter a house. Eat what is placed before you. Invest in one home, one family, one town. Speak of what is near, not far.
What is the task? The task is to live simply and vulnerably.
The task is to rely on the grace and hospitality of others. The task is to live as guests, sharing our faith with others as if they're our hosts, the people we depend on for sustenance and shelter. The task is to speak peace, first and last. The task is to let go in love.
When the disciples return to Jesus presumably having done exactly what he asked of them , they are filled with joy. Demons fall. The world changes. And yet. It's amazing how often I needlessly complicate the Christian life. What is God's will?
How shall I hear God's voice and discern God's plan? Are the answers really all that hard? Do justice. Love mercy. They are usually shown riding or walking with their gifts that they bring to offer to their new king, Jesus. It should be noted that the three wise men are usually represented as being different ages, which emphasizes that the message of the peace of God through the incarnation is given to all men regardless of their age.
A long ray in some depictions three rays symbolizing the Trinity from the star they follow points directly to the cave where Jesus is born.
Solomon: Man of Wisdom, Man of Foolishness
A detail that is often overlooked is that the star is connected by a ray of light to a half sphere seen at the very top of the icon. This shows that the star is not just a natural phenomenon of the cosmos, but a message from heaven pronouncing the birth of God Incarnate. While the star is a central part of the Nativity story pointing to the divine origin of the birth of Jesus, there is usually a subtle image of a tree pointing to his human origin.
The tree represents the Tree of Jesse, and refers to a prophecy of Isaiah. There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him. Depicted in the lower half of the icon are two women with the child Jesus. Sometimes you will not find this scene, and you may even find it blatantly erased and replaced with an alternate scene, as it caused some controversy in the early church. Some believed that this depiction was not appropriate as Jesus came from a miraculous birth, was pure and did not require cleaning.
Despite this interpretation, most of the Orthodox accept the image as it shows the humanity of Christ. When you read the account of the Nativity in the apocryphal gospel of Matthew, however, you find that she is named Zelomi. It was likely that since Salome was the constant in both stories and that she was miraculously healed in the story, she gained more historical fame with church tradition. Additionally, there is some debate as to whether this Salome is the same one mentioned in Mark and Mark , attending the crucifixion of Jesus and later bringing spices to the tomb. I will present the two apocryphal stories of the Nativity below as they also serve to further support that Jesus was born in a cave.
And behold a woman coming down from the hillcountry, and she said to me: Man, whither goest thou? And I said: I seek a midwife of the Hebrews. And she answered and said unto me: Are you from Israel? And I said unto her: Yea. And she said: And who is she that bringeth forth in the cave?
And I said: She that is betrothed unto me. And she said to me: Is she not thy wife? And I said to her: It is Mary that was nurtured up in the temple of the Lord: and I received her to wife by lot: and she is not my wife, but she has conception by the Holy Ghost. And the midwife said unto him: Is this the truth? And Joseph said unto her: Come hither and see.
And the midwife went with him. And they stood in the place of the cave: and behold a bright cloud overshadowing the cave. And the midwife said: My soul is magnified this day, because mine eyes have seen marvellous things: for salvation is born unto Israel. And immediately the cloud withdrew itself out of the cave, and a great light appeared in the cave so that our eyes could not endure it. And by little and little that light withdrew itself until the young child appeared: and it went and took the breast of its mother Mary.
And the midwife cried aloud and said: Great unto me to-day is this day, in that I have seen this new sight. And the midwife went forth of the cave and Salome met her. And she said to her: Salome, Salome, a new sight have I to tell thee. A virgin hath brought forth, which her nature alloweth not. And Salome said: As the Lord my God liveth, if I make not trial and prove her nature I will not believe that a virgin hath brought forth. And the midwife went in and said unto Mary: Order thyself, for there is no small contention arisen concerning thee. Arid Salome made trial and cried out and said: Woe unto mine iniquity and mine unbelief, because I have tempted the living God, and lo, my hand falleth away from me in fire.
And she bowed her knees unto the Lord, saying: O God of my fathers, remember that I am the seed of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob: make me not a public example unto the children of Israel, but restore me unto the poor, for thou knowest, Lord, that in thy name did I perform my cures, and did receive my hire of thee.
And lo, an angel of the Lord appeared, saying unto her: Salome, Salome, the Lord hath hearkened to thee: bring thine hand near unto the young child and take him up, and there shall be unto thee salvation and joy. And Salome came near and took him up, saying: I will do him worship, for a great king is born unto Israel.
And behold immediately Salome was healed: and she went forth of the cave justified. And Io, a voice saying: Salome, Salome, tell none of the marvels which thou hast seen, until the child enter into Jerusalem. And Joseph said to the blessed Mary: I have brought you two midwives — Zelomi and Salome; and they are standing outside before the entrance to the cave, not daring to come in hither, because of the exceeding brightness.
And when the blessed Mary heard this, she smiled; and Joseph said to her: Do not smile; but prudently allow them to visit you, in case you should require them for your cure. Then she ordered them to enter. And when Zelomi had come in, Salome having stayed without, Zelomi said to Mary: Allow me to touch you.
And when she had permitted her to make an examination, the midwife cried out with a loud voice, and said: Lord, Lord Almighty, mercy on us! It has never been heard or thought of, that any one should have her breasts full of milk, and that the birth of a son should show his mother to be a virgin. But there has been no spilling of blood in his birth, no pain in bringing him forth.
A virgin has conceived, a virgin has brought forth, and a virgin she remains. And hearing these words, Salome said: Allow me to handle you, and prove whether Zelomi have spoken the truth. And the blessed Mary allowed her to handle her. And when she had withdrawn her hand from handling her, it dried up, and through excess of pain she began to weep bitterly, and to be in great distress, crying out, and saying: O Lord God, You know that I have always feared You, and that without recompense I have cared for all the poor; I have taken nothing from the widow and the orphan, and the needy have I not sent empty away.
And, behold, I am made wretched because of mine unbelief, since without a cause I wished to try Your virgin. And while she was thus speaking, there stood by her a young man in shining garments, saying: Go to the child, and adore Him, and touch Him with your hand, and He will heal you, because He is the Saviour of the world, and of all that hope in Him.
And she went to the child with haste, and adored Him, and touched the fringe of the cloths in which He was wrapped, and instantly her hand was cured. And going forth, she began to cry aloud, and to tell the wonderful things which she had seen, and which she had suffered, and how she had been cured; so that many through her statements believed.
In the Nativity icon, Joseph the carpenter is usually depicted sad and depressed, sitting down and resting his head on his hand, away from Mary and the baby Jesus. In Orthodox icons, Joseph is usually depicted as an elderly man. You have been chosen by lot to take the virgin into your own keeping.
I will not be ridiculed among the children of Israel. Depicting him separate from the central birth scene is a statement that Joseph is not the father of Jesus, and emphasis is placed on his separation from the central group. In front of Joseph, shown as a hunched old man, stands the devil. On some icons the artist adds a tail, furled wings, or two horns to the old man, emphasizing his role as the devil.
It is important to note that the doubting feelings of Joseph are very briefly mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew. This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
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Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. This appearance of the angel comforts Joseph, and we are not told of any more doubts on the part of Joseph in the gospels outside of this account in Matthew. The Protoevangelium of James shows us that Joseph even confronts Mary. In the sixth month of her pregnancy, Joseph came from his house-building and went into the house to find her swelling.
What will I pray about her, for I took her as a virgin from the temple of the Lord and did not guard her? Who has set this trap for me? Who did this evil in my house? Who stole the virgin from me and defiled her.