Luke 2:22-24, “22 And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
- In verses 22-24 Joseph and Mary follow a tradition of bringing the “firstborn male” to the temple as a reminder of the rescue in Exodus when the angel of death passes over every house that is covered by the blood of the lamb.
- In the Old Testament Israel is enslaved in Egypt, the Lord tells Moses to take the blood of the lamb, put it on the doorposts, so that when the angel of death passes over the house, he will pass over every house that is covered by the blood of the lamb.
- And in Luke 2 Joseph and Mary are bringing baby Jesus to the temple to celebrate the rescue of the Passover in Exodus 12, and foreshadowing that Ultimate Rescue that is going to come in Jesus.
Luke 2:25-26, “25 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 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.”
- In verses 25 and 26 we meet Simeon and the phrase, “righteous and devout” doesn’t mean Simeon was better than other people, religious, or a goody-goody, but the phrase, “righteous and devout” simply means that Simeon knows about the promises of a coming Rescuer, and Simeon is on the look out for the Rescuer.
Listen, this might not land on our hearts the same way it landed on Simeon because we don’t see our need for a rescuer. Sure, people back then needed rescue, but today we got iPhone’s, Whole Foods, and Disney +, “Rescue us from what?”
We don’t see our need for a Rescuer because our psychologist and philosophers like Rousseau have taught us that humanity is basically good, our flaws our minimal, and with better social environments, better education, better government, and the whole world will be better for you and me and the entire human race.
But, we’ve been running that play for a couple hundred years, and we have made some advancement, but we still see really horrible, dark layers of humanity, and it is all of humanity is in desperate need of a Rescuer.
Luke 2:27-32, “27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
- Can you imagine what it must have been like for Simeon in that moment? The fulfillment of those promises throughout the Old Testament of a Rescuer, and Simeon is holding Him in his arms?
- In addition, did you notice in verse 32 that Simeon applies the scope of the Rescue to include the Gentile world first, and then Israel? Oh, this Rescuer isn’t just for Israel. This Rescuer isn’t just a band-aid for humanity to get a little nudge. This Rescuer isn’t just for a political movement. This Rescuer isn’t just for a specific point in history.
- The scope is global. The reach is eternal. The invitation is for all people, because all people are in desperate need of a Rescuer. This is the heart-warming part of Christmas, and this is the tension of Christmas that we can’t escape.
Luke 2:33-35, “33 And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
- The word “appointed” in the original language means “to be destined, to be set in place, to bring rescue” so that every man, woman or child will, either (look at the tension) rise or fall at His name. This makes Christmas polarizing. You are either delighted at the celebration of Christmas, because the Rescuer has come, or you are opposed to Christmas. There is no middle ground in Christmas. There is no warm fuzzies of indifference. No, the Child has come for the rise or fall of many, a sign to either be received or opposed.
Luke 2:36-37, “36 And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.”
- In verse 36 we meet Anna. Anna’s husband dies after 7-years of marriage, and she remains a widow, and Anna, like Simeon, has been pouring over the promises in the Old Testament of the day that the Rescuer would come, longing for the day, “serving night and day with fastings and prayers” and finally that day has come, the Rescuer has arrived.
This Christmas, I am sure you see the warmth of Christmas with songs, lights, presents and parties, and those things are good, but do you see the tension? Do you see your desperate need for a Rescuer?
Do you see your soul longing for relief in the things of the world, and how they never seem to satisfy? Perhaps its because if you can’t find relief in the things of this world it is a probable explanation that relief can only come in things from outside of this world. His name is Jesus!