By Rev. Dr. Sergio Arevalo, Jr.
Dec 28, 2014, First Sunday after Christmas
The Redeemer became flesh—that’s the gist of this passage. Our God did not separate himself from his subjects but instead he became flesh and dwelt among us. Our God entered human history through Jesus Christ.
And because of that he knew our sufferings, he knew our situation, he knew our joy, he knew our needs, and he knew our crises in life. If we have this kind of God, we are assured that when we need help God is with us.
Let’s study the coming of our God in human history through Jesus. After Jesus was born in a manger, he was brought to the Temple for purification.
I. Jesus Presented in the Temple (vv.22-24).
Luke 2:22-24 says, “When the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn son is to be designated as holy to the Lord.’ They also offered a sacrifice according to what is specified in the Law of the Lord: ‘a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.’”
In these verses we read the fulfillment of the legal requirements respecting the child Jesus: His circumcision and naming on the eighth day, as one of the Jewish people, and the redemption from the temple service on the day of purification (40th day), as a first-born son. In the former case the mere fact is stated; in the latter there is added the recognition of the infant by two godly persons, likely to be in the temple.
Every male that opens the womb, i.e., every first-born male (‘both of man and of beast’). The sacrifice was required in every case, but the presentation only in the case of the firstborn son. The requirement respecting the first-born was in remembrance of the sparing of the first-born of the Israelites in Egypt (Exo. 13:2; Num, 8:17) (Popular Commentary of the New Testament).
And in Numbers 8:17, “Since every firstborn of Israel belongs to me, from human beings to livestock. ‘On the same day that I destroyed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated them to myself.’”
This passage reminds us to do our obligations to God. Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus offered themselves to God and they complied with their obligations to God—to give the first male son to God.
As a Church member or as a Christian we have obligations to God. The Lord is waiting for us to do our obligations for Him.
II. Jesus Brought Salvation in the World (vv.25-35).
Our passage says that a man named Simeon was in Jerusalem. This man was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the one who would comfort Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
Simeon took the infant in his arms and praised God, saying, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace according to your promise. Because my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared for all people to see—a light that will reveal salvation to the gentiles and bring glory to your people Israel.”
Simeon added that “This infant is destined to cause many in Israel to fall and rise. Also, he will be a sign that will be opposed. Indeed, a sword will pierce your own soul, too, so that the inner thoughts of many people might be revealed.”
Indeed, Jesus brought salvation to the world. Old Testament people or the Israelites knew it before Jesus came, but they did not believe what the prophets told. That’s why until now a lot of Jews and Israelites don’t believe that the Messiah had already come.
Another woman of God witnessed for Jesus Christ, the prophetess Anna. She was a descendant of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was very old, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow for 84 years. She never left the Temple, but continued to worship there night and day with times of fasting and prayer.
When she saw Jesus in the temple she thanked God, and witnessed for Jesus and his mission to save the world.
These verses are challenging us to do the same. If we really saw Jesus in our hearts, or if Jesus is in our hearts, we have obligations to be witnesses for him. We have obligation to share it to our family members and to our friends. When was the last time that you share the Gospel to your spouse, children and friends? Saint Francis once said, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” Some versions are “Witness for Christ each day, and if necessary use words.” “Wherever you go, preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”
It’s okay to be good Christians, but we have also obligation to share the Gospel to others.
In 1981, a Minnesota radio station reported a story about a stolen car in California. Police were staging an intense search for the vehicle and the driver, even to the point of placing announcements on local radio stations to contact the thief.
On the front seat of the stolen car sat a box of crackers that, unknown to the thief, were laced with poison. The car owner had intended to use the crackers as rat bait. Now the police and the owner of the Volkswagen Bug were more interested in apprehending the thief to save his life than to recover the car.
So often when we run from God, we feel it is better to escape his punishment. But what we are actually doing is eluding his rescue (sermonillustrations.com).
We should not run from the Lord. God brought his salvation to us because he loves us. Jesus is our redeemer and our salvation. If we want to enjoy the salvation of God, we have nothing to do but to exercise our faith in Jesus and repent from all our sins.
Are we ready to do that?