Jam-packed chapter so far:
· vv.2-7, we learned how God leads through “circumstance”
o How does God get the pregnant Mary to the right place – Bethlehem in Judah – at the right time (the birth of Jesus the Messiah) to fulfill prophecy, when she’s currently in Nazareth?
§ i.e., how does God lead?
§ How can we discern the will of God for us?
o He didn’t do it by sending a written invitation, or giving a word of prophecy, or sending a dream, or anything nearly so clear-cut (from our perspective)
§ Instead, He moved the heart of a pagan king, thousands of miles away, to issue a decree for a census that set in motion a series of consequences that rippled outward until Mary and Joseph were caught up in it and ultimately moved to exactly where they needed to be at exactly the right time.
o The Bible has a lot to say about the will of God – and it’s usually spoken of in the context of relationship with Him
§ i.e., we discover the will of God for us in any given situation as we walk in what He’s already told us to do:
· worship Him
· be faithful in what He’s put right in front of us
§ as we walk in that/these, He progressively reveals His will through, among other things (and I tend to think this is His usual method), “circumstances.”
· vv.8-20, we saw that God chose the most unlikely of all people to be the first witnesses for the impossibly great work of salvation that He was beginning to unfold.
· vv.21-35, we met Simeon, a great man of faith, and learned how to deal with disappointment and what can often seem like the “delays” of God’s timing (from our perspective).
· [Courson] After losing her husband, Anna could have become bitter. Instead, she became better and blessed. Rather than simply becoming old and fatigued, she kept about her such a high degree of vitality and spirituality that she was chosen singularly of all women to be the prophetess who recognized Jesus as Messiah. Why? I believe the text gives us three reasons.…
o Anna prayed to the Lord. She didn’t give herself over to bemoaning her loss. Rather, she said, “I’m going to use my single state as an opportunity to give myself to God completely and wholeheartedly.”
o Anna looked for the Lord. Like Simeon, she lived in the anticipation of the coming Messiah.
o Anna talked about the Lord. Not only did she worship like Simeon, but she spoke of Him to all that looked for redemption. So, too, if I am truly worshiping, I cannot help but witness and talk to people about the Lord.
…the grace of God…
· First mention of “grace” in the NT.
Feast of the Passover
· One of the three mandatory feasts that every able-bodied Jewish male was required to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem for
o …other two being Pentecost and Ingathering
· The fact that both of His parents went to the mandatory feast (even Mary, though she wasn’t required to) shows that they took their job as godly parents seriously.
And when He was twelve years old…
· [Guzik] To satisfy this curiosity, men wrote their own so-called "Infancy Gospels." In them, we are told of strange, spectacular and silly miracles like Jesus talking from the manger; healing a man made into a mule by a spell; bringing clay birds to life with a clap of His hands; healing people with a sprinkling with his old bath water, and so forth.
Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?
· Jesus in the Incarnation, while not in anyway become less God than He has always eternally been, took on Himself full and complete Humanity – and all the limitations of full and complete Humanity.
o That included the fundamental, mind-blowing mystery of how He could at the same time possess complete knowledge of everything (omniscience) and also be limited in knowledge (He grew as a normal human child…learned how to sit up, crawl, talk…learned the Torah…learned like any other human child…)
o How both of those could be true at the same time is one of the great, deep, awesome mysteries of the faith.
· But one of the most intriguing things to think about is the question: when did He know who He was?
o At what point did He become aware of His unique relationship with the Father?
o At what point did He become aware that He wasn’t just an ordinary human – that He was the Lord of Heaven, the Creator of heaven and earth – God Himself come in Human Flesh…?
· [Guzik] It is impossible to say when, in the context of the self-imposed limitations of His humanity, Jesus realized who He was and what He was sent to do, but it was early - this is probably the not when it began, but when it was in full flower.
…My Father’s business…
· The rabbis teach that every father is obligated by God to teach his sons a trade – that to fail to do so is equivalent with teaching him how to steal
o Further, this instruction was to begin in earnest at the age of 12.
o So, Jesus here is just being about His Father’s business
§ …the business of the Word and of salvation!
· Adopted son of Caesar Agustus, known to history as a brilliant Roman general but a reluctant Roman emperor, known for his severity and cruelty
· Prefect of the Roman province of Judea, became governor in A.D. 26, when the political situation with the Herods became particularly contentious.
…the word of God came to John…
· This is the only time this particular phrase is used in the entire NT.
o Used often in the OT to refer to the message that the prophets received from the Lord to give to the people
o John is the last of the OT prophets – he closes out the OT era
§ Luke 16, Jesus will say “the Law and the Prophets (the OT) were until John…”
…in the wilderness…
· Just as OT Israel, the Word of God comes to John in the wilderness
· Also, note that God’s timing is just as important as His call on your life.
o God had through Gabriel called John to be the forerunner of the Messiah, from before his birth
§ But it’s only now, thirty years later, that he is now given the “go” to begin to walk in that calling.
§ All the 30 years leading up to this – likely watching as his parents grew older and more feeble, and then die (they were “well stricken with age”), living in the barren, dry wilderness, subsisting on wild honey and locusts, wondering, waiting, watching – were necessary preparation for this specific time.
o God had placed His call on John, and John knew it…but he didn’t know the timing.
…brother Philip’s wife…
· Herod the Great died in 4B.C., and his kingdom was divided between his three sons Herod Archelaus, Herod Philip II, and Herod Antipas, and another dude by the name of Lysanias (v.1 mentions him as Tetrarch of Abilene). Each of the sons of Herod that became Tetrarchs were from different mothers
· Herod Antipas, on a trip to Rome visited his half-brother, Herod Philip
· Herod Philip had married his half-brother, Herod Aristobulus' daughter Herodias.
· While visiting his wealthy brother Philip in Rome and staying in his house, Herod Antipas became involved with Herodias, his half-brother's wife (and his own half-niece). He steals her away from his half-brother and brings her back to Judea with him. He then divorces his wife, the daughter of a Nabataean king (the Nabataeans were a powerful Arab nation bordering the Roman provinces at the time). This starts a costly and embarrassing border war. Herodias semi-officially leaves her uncle/husband Philip and marries her half-uncle Antipas, and now they are together.