Today's readings (Gen 3.1-24 and Mt 11.25-30) expand on the petitions of this week's collect, in which we pray rescue from our sins and God's mighty deliverance. They flesh out these requests by teaching us and reminding us of our need for redemption (from Genesis) and the benefits of God's salvation in Christ (from Matthew).
In Genesis, we read of the temptation and fall of mankind into sin through our ancestral parents, Adam and Eve. It may not seem very fitting for Advent until we consider that this account sets the scene for the unfolding drama of the rest of the Bible--explaining why we need rescued, saved, and redeemed in the first place. Were it not for Adam's first sin, into which the rest of humanity has followed from the beginning, we would not need "rescued from the threatening peril of our sins." But we do need redemption. From this third chapter of the Bible to the birth of Jesus--so named because he will save his people from their sins (Mt 1.21)--God worked to arrange circumstances until they were just right. Our salvation was millennia in the making!
But what benefits do we receive from this great salvation? Jesus answers in today's passage from St. Matthew. Here we learn that if we come to him in faith, we shall find rest for our souls (i.e. our entire being). No longer shall we be encumbered by the unbearable burden of sin. No longer shall we labor seemingly in vain to do what it right only to be crushed by the burden of the Law. But through Christ Jesus, we shall find forgiveness, mercy, and grace abounding...and we shall find rest, temporal (imperfect) and eternal (perfect), for our weary souls.
As we continue on our Advent journey to Bethlehem, let us be reminded of our need for the Savior we seek, not to disparage in our sins but to graciously marvel at the intricate outworking of God's saving plan and to respond in thanksgiving for the rest we find in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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