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Looking Forward

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Luke

There are all sorts of students at school aren’t there.
In the lead up to Christmas and over Christmas we spent time in Luke’s gospel thinking about the coming of Christ. Over the next little while, we’re going to continue reflecting on the life of Jesus from the gospel of Luke together as a church.
Spocks/Nerds
Sporty

Good and Bad Feedback

Druggies
Have you ever had that experience where someone says something really nice to you, only to follow it up with a hard truth you didn’t really want to hear?
Average Joes
Perhaps the Bishop might say to me:
In some ways school is a mi
Hey Chris, great job on those Christmas services last week, they were really excellent, only thing is, you preached heresy and your fired.
You know the kind of feedback I’m talking about, where you’re lifted up only to come crashing back down harder.
Well I wonder perhaps if that’s how Mary might have felt when Simeon started with your little boy is the glory of your people (v32) and finished with ‘a sward will pierce your own soul’ (v35).
Boom.
We’re going to spend most of our time tonight reflecting on the words of Simeon and thinking about how they apply to us, but first, the context for all of this is the temple where Mary and Jospeh have taken Jesus for:

Circumcision and Purification

Luke 2:22–24 TNIV
When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
Luke 2:22-24
Luke 2:21–24 TNIV
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
Why are they doing this? Well.... Jesus was born a Jew.
Jesus was born a Jew.
So, he needed to be circumcised as per the OT law (v21). At your circumcision you were named. And Jesus is named just as the angel had said. We see as we have throughout the first chapter, Mary’s faithful obedience to God, which is not a reason to pray to her, but rather a model for us, to respond to God and his word to us with faithful obedience.
He also needed to be consecrated to the Lord (v23). An illusion to that we had read to us.
In we read how a woman is unclean after the birth of a son for 7 days and must offer a sacrifice of a lamb and a dove/pigeon. Or if poor, two birds. Mary is offering the latter.
What’s the significance of all this? Why is Luke telling us about these early days?
Paul puts it in
Galatians 4:4 TNIV
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
Jesus was born under the law so that
Galatians 4:5 TNIV
to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.
He could redeem those under the law.
Luke recounts how this is true of Jesus right from the beginning of his life. He fulfils the law perfectly on our behalf.

Simeon’s prophecies

From verses 25-35 we meet Simeon and hear about how he interacted with Jesus in the temple.
Simeon is a man whom the Holy Spirit was on. Again as we saw in the lead up to Christmas, God’s spirit came upon people in special ways in the OT and here it has come upon Simeon in order to point him to Jesus.
The Holy Spirit has told him he will see the Messiah before he dies and led him to the temple as Jesus is there with Mary and Joseph fulfilling their obligations under the law.
What does Simeon say about Jesus?
Luke 2:29–32 TNIV
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
God has delivered on his promise to Simeon.
Jesus is the promised Messiah.

The glory of your people Israel.

A light for revelation to the Gentiles

What’s that about?
What’s that about?
Jesus is the glory of Israel, in that the coming of the Messiah is ultimately what Isarel was all about. God was using his people, the stories of the OT to point and prepare them for the coming Messiah. Just like a football team has a pre-season, then a season and then finally receives the glory of a premiership, Jesus is that final piece in the picture for Israel.
And their glory is a light to the Gentiles. As a premiership winning team is studied by the other teams in the competition, what’s their coaching like, how did they do it. The footy teams glory reflects and benefits all the other teams, making them better, lifting up the whole competition. So for Israel, it’s glory - the Messiah brings light to the Gentiles, that is all the other nations of the world. With Jesus salvation, life with God is no longer restrained to Israel, but available to all.
Simeon, a man full of the Holy Spirit rejoices in this salvation for all people.
And he doesn’t just leave it there. He turns to Mary and says
Luke 2:33–35 TNIV
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Rising and Falling of many

It’s an interesting follow up to him being the glory of Israel isn’t it?
He will cause the falling and rising of many in Israel.
He will be a sign that is spoken against so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.
Leon Morris says that in these verses we are reminded that, “People declare themselves by their attitude to Jesus. We cannot ultimately be neutral.”
Simeon is saying
People declare themselves by their attitude to Jesus. We cannot ultimately be neutral.
In Israel there were many who had gotten used to the way things were. They had gotten used to man made rules and regulations, pointless religiosity that was meant to help people be holy, but was actually a barrier to God. They were good at the rules, they had power, and they were comfortable and enjoyed lording it over others. But Jesus reveals the state of their hearts. He causes the proud, arrogant and religious to fall. Not only that, but as Jesus reveals their hearts as being self serving rather than God focussed, he is a sign that is spoken against. That is they seek to take Jesus down because he’s a threat to their power. And who rises? The Shepherds, the widows, the tax collectors and the prostitutes. Those who have nothing in the economy of religion and so can only respond to God with faith as they meet Jesus. They rise as others fall.

A church for Lindisfarne, making disciples of Jesus.

This is a challenge for us. Have we gotten too comfortable? Are we focused on our own likes and wants and needs? Are we tempted to speak out against our desire as a church to reach people who don’t know Jesus, because we preferred it when church was all about us? This is a challenge for us because the Jesus we are here to worship today has come and called us to be a light to the gentiles. A light to our community. As we seek to be a church for Lindisfarne, making disciples of Jesus we will find that God calls us constantly out of our comfort zones, out of our religiosity and into a place that is dangerous, and uncomfortable, and costly.
Look how it ends for Mary! Her faithful obedience ultimately leads her to this place where Simeon now tells her ‘a sword will pierce your own soul too.’ What can Simeon possibly be talking about? It must be ultimately Jesus’ death. That this child whom she’s given birth to, whom she will raise, whom she will see do such wonderful things, she will witness his death. And as any parent here can tell you, there is nothing more unbearable than that. And yet it is to this life that she has been called by God.
The life of faithful obedience, ends in glory. It ends with us spending eternity with Jesus and my goodness it will be wonderful.
But in the meantime, here and now, on earth, in a world full of darkness, God promises not comfort, but sacrifice. If you want to comfortable, then you’ll struggle to find a home in a church that is on about making disciples of Jesus. But if you want to be a disciple of Jesus, then you’ll find a family here that will love and support you through the good times and the bad, as we seek to be a church for our community.
Our reading finishes with the prophet Anna who speaks to others in the temple about Jesus.
Luke 2:38 TNIV
Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Luke 2:
She speaks to those who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. That is she speaks to those Jews who had faith. Who trusted God and were looking forward to seeing him work in our world by sending his son.
Well, We are a people who’ve seen God work. Who’ve seen the Messiah come. Who know that
Galatians 4:4–5 TNIV
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.
So for us to look forward to the redemption of God’s people today is to continue to tell others of our hope. To continue to tell others that this Jesus brings redemption and freedom and sonship to all who believe and trust God. That we can spend eternity with him.
Will we continue to tell others of our hope. That this Jesus brings salvation to all who believe and trust God.
It’s the best news you’ll ever hear. It’s news our community, our world needs desperately! Let’s look forward together.
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