Summary: This series is based loosely on the facts and stories found in the "Living Lent" sermon series written by Donald Neidigk.
(This sermon is based loosely on the facts and stories found in the "Living Lent" sermon series written by Donald Neidigk.)
Living Lent II, “The Dove Reveals an Angry Savior”
We are in the midst of Lent… the period before Easter where we focus on Christ and prepare for his passion and sacrifice on the cross. As a church, we are spending this time hearing from… of all things… animals to teach us lessons and help us learn more (or hear once again) about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So far, we heard from a fox on Ash Wednesday… and we heard from a donkey last week. We have a few donkey fans in this church. I did not know that. This week we will be learning a little something from a dove.
What do we think when we think of doves? [Peace. Weddings. Purity.] But how about this… closely related to doves are pigeons. They have similar habits and diet. They even seem to be used interchangeably in the Bible, though there’s a different word for each. What do we think of when we think of pigeons? [Flying Rat. Dirty. Nuisance. What a mess.] Pigeons are everywhere… especially in larger cities. Did you know that you can find pigeons on every single continent except Antarctica! So… it shouldn’t be shocking that doves and pigeons were very common and plentiful back in Jesus day. Much like the guy who is responsible for cleaning the statue’s in a New York park… people in Jesus’ day viewed pigeons as nuisances. They were a danger to farmer’s crops and often quite messy. Being so plentiful… and viewed as such a nuisance… they were very common and extremely cheap animals that people could buy to offer as sacrifice to the Lord at temple.
This becomes our lead in to Jesus… So it was… that right after Jesus was born… Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to perform the standard sacrificial rights. Normally, the sacrifices after a child was born usually had to be a lamb, but if someone couldn’t afford a lamb, pigeons or doves were accepted. Of all the animals that Mary and Joseph could have purchased… Mary and Joseph purchased a dove… showing how extremely poor they were.
It must have been humbling being unable to afford a real sacrifice… especially after such an important event as the first son being born… and yet… would anything else better represent our Christ who came for us and humbled himself for us? Our Christ who was humbly born in a stable… would humbly be brought to temple as a baby with nothing more than a dove to sacrifice. This dove, much like the stable that he was born in… declared that Jesus’ life would be marked by humble service.
This would not be the last time that a dove would play an important part in the life of Christ… the dove has yet more to teach us… this little animal would mark special moments in Christ’s life: beginning… middle… and end.
Can anyone tell me the second time that a dove makes an appearance in reference to Christ? His baptism:
Matthew 3:16 - 4:1 6 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
Here, the dove has something else important to teach us. This humble man from such humble beginnings was about to begin his ministry… about to begin his 3 year journey to the cross… and it is here that the dove sets Christ completely apart from every other servant… every other prophet… every other man. This Jesus… was the son of God! The Christ… the Savior! He would be able to do what no other man could do. He would heal those no other man could heal. He would reconcile those that no one else could reconcile. He would save those who could not save themselves. He is our TRUE Lord!
The dove has one final lesson to teach us today. Can any of you tell me the last reference we have to Christ and doves in the scriptures? Good Friday in the Temple:
14 In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!" 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me."