What a better way to get the Lenten season started, than with the topic of circumcision! But truly… our passage for today, centered around Exodus 12:49, has an enormous amount of truly beautiful meaning for our lives as followers of Jesus. In Exodus 12, laws for Passover are being established by Moses, and the rule is given that “no foreigner may eat it (Passover)” (v. 43) He then goes on to explain though that if a foreigner’s whole household is circumcised, they would be permitted to partake. God’s chosen people, the Israelites (who were all circumcised at birth), observed freely.
Strange, right? How in the world do we take this abstract set of rules and apply it to our responsibility to love our neighbors? I think it’s two-fold. First, we recognize what circumcision meant. Circumcision was a physical marking of being a part of God’s holy people- set apart for their good and His glory. When Jesus died though, for both Jew and Gentile, we read in Romans 2:28-29 that, “A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.” Basically: because of Jesus’ sacrifice, all who belong to Jesus are “circumcised in their hearts,” as it were, a part of God’s holy chosen.
But even more importantly, this passage in Exodus 12 (and especially verse 48 “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it.”) calls us to look to the Great Foreigner, who left His home so that He may take part like one born in the land. Jesus Christ- the Ultimate Immigrant- left His home on high and travelled to a foreign land so that foreigners to HIS Kingdom could be welcomed in. Now we, on permanent visas to the Kingdom above, are called not just to love others, but to remember that before Jesus, we were without a home, broken and alone. Understanding this should bring us to ultimate compassion for the foreigner- as we were foreigners to all glory before Jesus’ resurrection. So, let us love. Let us reflect on those who are not only without a spiritual “Home,” but also without an earthly one. Let us pray for those who are rejected by their own people. And let us open our hearts, remembering that Jesus Himself was a stranger- and whatever we do for the “least of these brothers and sisters of mine,” we do for Him.