Today we’re looking at the story of Jesus through the Gospel According to Luke, the third book of the New Testament, and we get to see a brief glimpse of the childhood of Jesus. Check it out…
When the eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus—the name given by the angel before he was conceived. And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (just as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord) and to offer a sacrifice (according to what is stated in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons).
It’s fascinating that Luke tells us this little snippet about Mary and Joseph. He clearly points out that they were people who cared about following God’s law and maintaining righteousness and purity before God. This is important for a couple reasons.
First, it will help combat rumors later on about the Mary’s pregnancy and Jesus’ birth.
If you’ve ever spent much time in a small town you’ll know how much people talk. Everyone knows your business. Sometimes people know your business before you know your business. So a young girl getting pregnant before she was married would have been scandalous in a tiny community. But Mary and Joseph aren’t immoral people. They aren’t religious law-breakers. They are righteous people and do things as they should.
Second, it will help combat rumors about Jesus himself.
The religious leaders were frequently accusing him of trying to subvert God’s law. But we see from the very beginning that Jesus was raised in a God-fearing home by people who cared about purity and righteousness. Jesus never tried to undermine the religious establishment. The religious rebellion he was accused of leading was nothing of the sort.
But the part of the story I really want to focus on today is here:
There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:
“Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, as You promised. For my eyes have seen Your salvation. You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples—a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel.”
His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about Him. Then Simeon blessed them and told His mother Mary:
“Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed—and a sword will pierce your own soul—that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”-Luke 2:25-35
This part just blows my mind. God had told Simeon that he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Messiah, and so he waited.
Then one day God directs Simeon to go to the temple where he sees the baby Jesus and Simeon knows that he is in the presence of the Messiah. And then Simeon is ready to die in peace, knowing that God’s promise has been fulfilled.
What really gets me is the waiting! It reminds me of a famous experiment researches did with children. They offered the kids one marshmallow but told them if they waited for 15 minutes they could have two marshmallows.
Simeon could have taught a Master-Class at patience and waiting. We have trouble waiting for our food to come when we order in a restaurant. We have trouble waiting in lines at the amusement park.
We have trouble waiting.
But God’s timing doesn’t always fit our timing. Luke continues his story by telling us about another aged person, Anna.
There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and was a widow for 84 years. She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was on Him.
Advanced in years, Anna had the same joy at seeing God fulfill His promise that Simeon had. It’s as if Luke were giving us a one-two combo punch: see, God DOES act. God HASN’T forgotten what He said He would do. You just have to be PATIENT to see it through.
We’re going to have some reflection and response time. We have two songs that connect thematically with what we’ve been talking about. Think about the message and focus on the words of the songs.
Our first song is simply called Desert Song. The premise is that, even when we’re going through the desert in our lives, God is always with us and we always have cause to worship. It proclaims:
All of my life, in every season
You are still God, I have a reason to sing,
I have a reason to worship
As you listen, think about the desert, the dry time that Simeon went through as he was waiting on God to fulfill his promise..
Ask yourself, “What am I waiting on in my life? What desert am I walking through? Can I be patient and trust God even in this time?”
Our second song this morning deals with a similar theme. It’s called Waiting Here For You and deals with the idea that, without God, we are powerless.
So we wait for his power.
The song declares:
If faith can move the mountains, let the mountains move.
We come with expectation—waiting here for You
Waiting here for You!
– Do I have the patience to wait for God to move?
– Can I worship in spite of being stuck in waiting mode?
MAKING IT REAL
– This week, make a list of the things you are waiting on God for. Make a timeline of when you would like God to move on those things.
– As you look at the list, pray over it and “turn it over” to God. Recognize that his timing isn’t your timing and surrender in patience. RIP UP YOUR TIMELINE. Throw it out!
Chris Linzey is husband to Tené, father to the three most beautiful children in the world, movie addict (seriously, if it’s on a screen he'll watch it—doesn’t matter how crummy or low-budget), and a Navy Chaplain, currently assigned to Naval Air Station, Meridian. Chris has a deep desire to help people live lives of faith where the Bible is more than mere words on a page, but the way we live everyday. His undergrad and Master’s studies were in Biblical Studies and he focused on the New Testament (his mentor was a Gospel of Mark scholar). He went on to get a Master of Divinity (MDiv) in Pastoral Preaching. Follow him at @chrislinzey.