The Center of the Story


Jeremiah 33:14–22 (NIV)

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. “‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’ For this is what the Lord says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel, nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.’”

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “This is what the Lord says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, then my covenant with David my servant—and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me—can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.’”


Of course, Jesus is fully God. We wholeheartedly proclaim his divinity and worship him for it. But in the incarnation, he becomes fully human. And—perhaps there is more mystery here than we realize—he becomes a very particular kind of human.

In the Old Testament, God repeatedly makes covenant with the Jewish people. In this passage, the prophet Jeremiah recounts these “good promise[s]” with echoes of the anchors of their history. He makes allusions to Adam and Eve, and the covenant with day and night established in the creation story. He sparks memories of Abraham and Sarah, pointing to the countless stars in the sky and measureless sand by the sea. And he explicitly speaks of the unrivaled reign of David and the Levitical law of Moses. He reminds us of the covenant movements through the grand sweep of Scripture. But in the days of fulfillment foreseen by Jeremiah, God does more than make a covenant with them. At the dawn of the New Testament, he becomes one of them.

We understand that Jesus was born for all people, but perhaps sometimes we forget that Jesus was born into a specific race of people, into a long cultural heritage and history. He carried distinct physical features (the tone of his skin, the color of his eyes, inherited family traits) that identified him with that people and he always fully embraced that identity. He was born into a race of people who had experienced hundreds of years of slavery, a trial they could never forget. He was born into a race of people who knew what it meant to be conquered by force. Repeatedly they were violently attacked and carried away from their homeland and into exile.

At the time of his birth, his people were living under the oppressive rule of the Roman Empire. The very dust beneath their feet had been promised to them by God himself. Yet Caesar, in all of his might, claimed it as his own and instituted a reign of systematic injustice. Taxes, laws, enforcement tactics—Jesus’s people were at the mercy of the system. From the very first glance of his face and skin, from the very first sounds of his accent, from the things that he ate and the ways that he worshipped, it was undeniably clear that Jesus was firmly located and numbered among the oppressed. And that is exactly where he wanted to be. And that is exactly where we still find him.

The mystery of the incarnation will always baffle and amaze anyone who is even half awake. But perhaps it’s this particular part of the mystery that is asking to be explored in days like these. To remember that ours is a story of a God who joins with the oppressed and shows up on the margins. Which transforms the margins from the forgotten edge of the page into the center of the whole story. He still invites us to seek him out and find him there. And more than that, to join him. Just as he has joined us.


God of the oppressed, God on the margins, draw me to where you are.


What does it mean to go to the margins in your community? What if Jesus is waiting for you there, among his people?

For the Awakening,
Matt LeRoy

P. S.

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

3 Responses

  1. Christ Came to Stay in Our Broken/Marginalized World

    The presence
    Of Emmanual,
    God with us,
    Jesus Christ,
    The Creator
    In human flesh,
    Is continual,
    Not annual.
    Christ doesn’t go away
    And come again
    Each Christmas Day.
    He came to stay.
    Jesus said:
    “I am with you always!”
    Although Jesus is now
    Seated in Heaven
    At the right hand
    Of God the Father
    He now also lives,
    Present and active,
    Inside His true followers,
    And what we do
    To the people
    We consider to be
    “The least of these”
    We do to Jesus.

  2. “What does it mean to go to the margins in your community?” In my opinion, it means to follow Jesus in ways that continue the ministry that he initiated when he walked here on earth as a Jewish itinerant rabbi. It means to seek and to save those who are lost and to offer hope to those who have given up on this life, by sharing the Gospel in word and deed. It means taking on the ministry of God’s reconciling humanity to Himself through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus.

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