JESUS THE BABY – THE SAVIOUR
1. Jesus identifies with us under the law.
In would have been 8 days after his birth that Jesus would have been circumcised and given his name. The name Jesus means Yahweh the Saviour.
The passage before us occurs 40 days after the birth of Jesus when he is taken by his parents, Joseph and Mary, to the temple in Jerusalem. There were two reasons for this visit to the temple. Firstly, for Mary to go through the purification rites according to Jewish Law and secondly, for the parents to present their baby [their first-born] to God according to the Jewish Law.
When a couple presented a child at the temple they had to bring a lamb to be sacrificed if they could not afford a Lamb they were permitted to bring a pigeon or 2 pigeons. Joseph and Mary were obviously poor; such a couple would in no way have skimped on their sacrifice.
A first-born son had to be presented to God because of God redemption of Israel first-born at the first Passover in Egypt went the Angel of Death caused all first-born males to die during the tenth plague. The first-born of the Jews were spared only because a substitute lamb was killed and the blood sprinkled on the lintel and door posts of the house.
The price of redemption, as every Israelite knew, was the sacrifice of a substitute. These were sin offerings.
Sin offerings signified the sinful state into which every human in born.
“But”, you say, “Jesus was perfect so why was there a need for these sin offerings.” “Surely He didn’t need redemption He is the Redeemer.”
True – Jesus was perfect and didn’t need redemption but he undergoes these things, NOT for his own benefit, but as sign that he voluntarily places himself under the law.
Gal.4v4. ” Born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those under the law
His purpose was to become like us in every way, yet without sin.
2. ANTICIPATION OF THE FAITHFUL FEW.
The coming of Messiah into the world at that time was not totally unexpected. There was general belief in a coming Messiah amongst the Jewish community but for most of them it was a remote belief that had little or no bearing on their daily lives.
Like today there are many who come under the umbrella of Christendom for whom the second coming of Christ is irrelevant if it is believed at all. Indeed what difference does the fact of the second advent of Christ have on our lives. Does the immanent return of Christ impact upon the way we live our lives. Are we expectant in regard to the coming of Christ?
In the first century there were the faithful few who were actively anticipating the arrival of the Messiah; among them were Simeon and Ana. They look forward with great yearning to His coming.
Simeon, in some special way through the Spirit of God, knew that he would see the Christ, the Messiah, God’s Anointed One.
ILLUST: A young child waiting for Granny and Grand-dad to come knows that they are coming but really has no concept of the timing. The child simply knows that they will come.
Simeon knew that “he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ”
God kept his promise to Simeon, as God always keeps all his promises.
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.”
The time of Simeon’s waiting is over.
ILLUST: The thought is of a slave who has been instructed by his master to keep watch through the long dark hours of the night. His task is to stand on a high place to await the rising of a special STAR and then to announce it. After wearisome hours her sees the star in all its brightness, announces it and is then discharged – his task is done.
Simeon has seen the rising of the “Sun of Righteousness”.
Simeon and Ana had taken God at his Word. They had believed His promises. What they believed had a dramatic influence on their lives and their behaviour. They were not passive religious hermits sitting around in pious contemplation nor were they like those who give nodding ascent to God while continuing to live as if he doesn’t exist .
Does what we believe about Jesus make us live differently from those around us? They believed against popular opinion.
“You don’t seriously believe that stuff about Jesus, do you? I mean the virgin birth, the resurrection ………”
“You must go with the flow.”
“NO, Christian, you must go against the flow if the flow is going against the flow of God”
The tension we constantly face is that we don’t want to be irrelevant religious fanatics but at the same time we don’t want to compromise our faith. We walk a tight-rope. How to be relevant to the world while remaining true to God’s Word. There are no easy answers but that doesn’t mean we don’t keep on trying, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us.
3. SALVATION: NOT THROUGH A PRACTICE BUT THROUGH A PERSON.
Simeon: “Dismiss your servant in peace, for my eyes have seen the baby Jesus!! NO My eyes have seen your salvation
Through the Holy Spirit Simeon knew that if the Messiah had come, salvation would inevitably follow. He wouldn’t see its completion – he probably didn’t know exactly how it would be accomplished BUT he knew it was certain!
Through the eyes of faith Simeon saw in this 40 day old baby God’s redemptive plan fro the human race.
“.… salvation , which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the gentiles.”
The salvation of the world didn’t lie in the sacrifice of bulls and goats. It didn’t lie in the rituals of the Mosaic Law. It didn’t lie in the religiosity of the people. BUT the world’s salvation lay in his arms. Righteousness personified in the Baby Christ.
Israel and the nations were in spiritual darkness but the light of God in Christ has come to dissipate the darkness.
Darkness which is representative of ignorance, sin, misery and spiritual death can be replaced by knowledge, growth, happiness and spiritual life through the redemption that Christ brings.
ILLUST: Men and women work all their lives to improve and protect their lives – to find happiness and fulfillment. BUT when they leave Christ out of their lives these very things they pursue will never ultimately be found or held onto.
“I tried the broken cisterns Lord
But, Ah the waters failed
Even as I stooped to drink they fled
And mocked me as I wailed
For none but Christ can satisfy…..
Simeon knew salvation had come; not exclusively for Israel, it would extend to ALL NATIONS. Just as God had promised Abraham.
“He came to that which was his own,
but his own did not receive him.”
For many today it is the same. They do not recognise Christ for who He is.
For many Christmas is unknown.
For others Christ is commercialised out of Christmas.
For others Jesus is simply a Baby in a manager – one can handle a Baby in a cradle, it is kind of cute, people are comfortable with that image.
BUT a Sovereign Lord who died and rose again and ascended to God’s right hand, who is beyond our control and makes demands on our lives – that is too uncomfortable
That is why people are content to focus on the cradle and ignore the cross. But a cradle without a cross is a distortion, it is a half truth. We can not, we dare not focus on Bethlehem and ignore Calvary.
4. RESPONSE TO GOD’S SALVATION.
“..salvation …in the sight of all people” does not mean that all will be saved.
“This child is destines to cause the falling and rising of many…” [v34]
“A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall” Isa.8v14 [1Peter 2v8]
NO! Not all will be saved. Jesus is the stone over which some will trip and fall and perish but he is also the stone which others will be enabled to rise and be saved.
Those who bow down at his feet, who have been humbled and confessed their sin and have placed their faith in him will be raised up to eternal life.
Those who imagine themselves to be strong and high and mighty, who rely on their own merit and power will come to a woeful end. Because of their pride they do not realise their own need. Those who ignore Christ do so to their peril.
But lest we become smug and complacent about our position as God’s people let us remind ourselves that we are only his people by his grace and not by our merit.
This salvation is “prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the gentiles.”
God’s salvation has global implications. While celebrate the coming of Christ – and rightly so – there are million who don’t know that he came. Do we give adequate importance to the global mission of Jesus Christ? Is the evangelisation of the world high on our agenda?
If the salvation of the world is high on God’s agenda, should it not be high on ours? How much time do we give to praying for our world? How much of our substance do we give to help others in missions? How much do we challenge our children and young people to give their lives in missionary service?
Jesus is the salvation of the world. Let us enjoy our Christmas but let it also be a time of recommittment to the One who is our Salvation.