Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Friday, March 29, 2013
The Fulfillment Announced through Simeon - Good Friday - March 29, 2013 - Text: Luke 2:22-38
Our text for this evening is Luke 2:22-38: “22And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30for my eyes have seen your salvation 31that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” 33And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” 36And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” This is our text.
This year during the season of Lent and Easter we are following the thread of God’s promise to send a Savior for all people (one covenant, not two). We began in the Garden of Eden when God first made His promise to send a Savior to Adam and Eve, before there was a Jew or Gentile. We continued with the reiteration of the covenant and the announcement of its fulfillment being narrowed, that is that the Savior of all nations would be born through the line of Abram whose name was later changed to Abraham. We followed as the covenant was reiterated and continued through the line of Abraham’s son, Isaac, and through Isaac’s son, Jacob and even through Israel’s greatest king, King David. Last week we moved into the New Testament and heard the announcement of the beginning of the fulfillment of the covenant through Zechariah’s son, John. And last night we continued in the New Testament with the announcement to Mary that she will be the mother of the Messiah. This evening we move to hear the announcement from the priest Simeon who was serving in the temple, the news and prophecy of the events which we do remember on this Good Friday Evening.
A quick review of the history of Christianity begins in the Garden of Eden. After God created a perfect world and placed the perfect man and the perfect woman He had created into the perfect Garden He had created for them, and as soon as He left them to live their lives, they just as immediately fell into sin, disobeying God and eating of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the Garden, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. With that sin death entered the world, which was the promised punishment for eating the fruit and God cursed the world. But He also immediately stepped in and promised to send a Christ, which is the Greek word for the Hebrew word, a Messiah. Thus, Christianity was born, in the Garden of Eden with the promise of a Christ, so that all who believed in the coming Christ would be saved. Notice also as we have been pointing out through Lent, the first promise of a Christ was made in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve before there ever were Jews and Gentiles or any other culture or ethnicity for that matter.
As time went on God reiterated and repeated His promise of a Christ, narrowing down the family through which He would fulfill His promise by telling Abraham that the promised Messiah would be born through his family line.
As we move into the New Testament, the last word of prophecy, the last word from the Lord had been given over 500 years earlier.
The beginning of the end, the beginning of God’s fulfillment and the ushering in of the end times happened when Jesus was born. Before Jesus was born, God promised a priest named Simeon, that he would see the Messiah, the Christ who was promised in the Garden of Eden. About Simeon we are told, “there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (v. 25, 26).
On this one special day, Simeon was directed by God to enter the temple. Jesus had been born “and when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons’” (v. 22-24).
“And [Simeon] came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, ‘Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel’” (v. 27-32).
Moved by the Holy Spirit of God, Simeon prophesied that Jesus was the salvation of Israel. Jesus was the Messiah, that is the Christ that was promised in the Garden of Eden.
Simeon prophesied of Jesus that He was a light for revelation to the Gentiles, that is that not only was Jesus born to save those of Jewish descent, but also all people, Gentiles included, again reminding us that the Christ promised in the Garden of Eden was promised before there was a Jew or Gentile and so was promised for all people.
Simeon, by the power of the Holy Spirit continued to prophesy of Jesus that He was born for the glory of His people, Israel. In other words, what the entire nation of Israel could not do, that is live according to the perfect will of God, Jesus did. What we are unable to do, live perfect lives, Jesus did and He lived perfectly for us and for all people. Jesus lived perfectly so that He might be our substitute, so He might trade His perfect life for our imperfect life.
Simeon prophesied that Jesus would be for the rise and fall of many in Israel. The first New Testament Christians were those of the Jewish faith who believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ. Those who rejected Jesus began what is today aptly called the religion or faith of Judaism. Thus, those who rejected Jesus fell from faith and were no longer a part of God’s covenant, which was a covenant of faith, and those who do believe, even we Gentiles of today are a part of God’s covenant, we are a part of the children of Abraham, not by birth nor DNA, but by faith, by God’s grace through faith which He gives to us.
Finally, Simeon speaking specifically to Mary prophesied that Jesus would be “a sign that is opposed,” in other words, Jesus and the name of Jesus would cause much difficulty throughout the world as well as time and history. And Jesus and His name continue to cause controversy even today.
What does this mean? Again this evening we are reminded that Jesus is the One promised in Eden. He is the Messiah, which is the Hebrew word for the Greek word, Christ. Old Testament Christianity was faith in the coming Christ. New Testament Christianity is faith in Jesus who came as the Christ. God’s original promise was for a Savior for all people, of all places, of all times, you and me included.
Jesus is the One promised to Abraham. God did not make a new covenant or a second covenant with Abraham, rather God simply narrowed the family line through which the Christ would be born.
Jesus is the One and only One who saves. Faith in anyone or anything else will not save. Faith in Jesus alone, given to us by God’s grace alone is what saves alone.
We are children of the covenant, by faith He gives to us. We rejoice because Jesus came for us. He came to live the perfect life for all of Israel and for us because they could not nor can we. Jesus came to fulfill all God’s promises and prophecies concerning the coming Messiah perfectly and then He took all the sins of all people, of all places, of all times on Himself and suffered and died paying the price for our sin. All because of His great love for us.
Today it is important that we continue to remember and follow God’s covenant because His covenant is a covenant, not based on human desire, need or work, but based on Jesus and His work of salvation for us. We need that constant reminder of our part in Jesus suffering and death. It was not only because of Adam and Eve’s sin, not only because the earth has been cursed, not only because we are conceived and born in sin, but also because of our own actual sins that Jesus had to come and die to pay the price for our sins.
Even before God began creation, He knew what was going to happen. Even before God began creation, He could look through time and He could see us, you and me. Because of His great love for us, for you and for me, He set into motion, not only creation, but also our redemption. Yes, you and I put Jesus on the cross. Yet, He went to the cross willingly because of His great love for us. At our Baptism He put faith in our hearts and made us His children. As we confess our sins and hear His words of absolution, as we hear His Holy Word read and proclaimed, as we partake of His body and blood in His Holy Supper, we are strengthened in our faith, we participate in His life, death and resurrection, and we are given His robes of righteousness. And all we can do is rejoice and give Him thanks, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.