Stephen Caswell © 2001
Baby’s Birthday Without Baby
The story is told of two women who were enjoying an elaborate luncheon in a downtown restaurant. When asked the occasion for the luncheon, one said, We are celebrating my baby’s birthday. But where is the baby? said the inquirer, for there was no child to be seen. Oh, said the mother, you didn’t think I’d bring him. Did you? Why he doesn’t know anything about it. Many of us celebrate the Birthday of our Savior and forget to invite Him! In our rush of observing Christmas with giving, eating, etc., do we really stop to meditate upon the Christ Child who should be the center of it all?
This year as usual most people will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Yet sadly, most will miss the significance of Christ's birth. They won't grasp the wonder of the incarnation. Today we will look a little deeper than the babe in the manger. We will answer the question, Who Is Jesus Christ? We will hear from three people that met Jesus. We will hear Moses, Simeon & Anna Speak.
Firstly, Moses Speaks
You will notice that the word law is used five times in Luke 2:21–40. This of course refers to the Law of Moses. Even though Jesus came to deliver His people from the bondage of the Law, He was made under the Law and obeyed its commands. Galatians 4:4: But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Jesus Christ didn't come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. Matthew 5:17–18 states this.
a. Jesus' Circumcision
Luke 2:21: And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child.
Jesus’ parents obeyed the Law first by circumcising Him when eight days old. This was the sign of the covenant that God made with Abraham, and it was required of every Jewish male who wanted to practice the faith. The Jews were proud to be God’s covenant people, and they scornfully called the Gentiles the uncircumcision. Jesus gladly identified with God's people. Our Lord’s relationship to the Law is an important part of His saving ministry. He was made under the Law; and although He rejected man’s religious traditions, He obeyed God’s Law perfectly. He bore the curse of the Law for us, thus setting us free from bondage.
b. Jesus' Calling
Luke 2:21: And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
It was customary for Jewish parents to name their boys when they were circumcised. The birth of John the Baptist highlights this fact. This took place on the eighth day in accordance with the Law. In obedience to the Lord, Mary and Joseph gave Him the name Jesus. Jesus jIhsou~" is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua and means Jehovah is salvation. The Hebrew word is frequently used in the Old testament and usually translated salvation. Jesus name is very significant.
Matthew 1:21 says: And she will bring forth a Son and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
That Beautiful Name
When people say that someone’s name is beautiful, they are usually referring to its sound. Parents today seldom choose a name for their children because of its meaning. They pick one that reminds them of a friend or a relative, or they select it because it has a combination of syllables that is pleasing to the ears. To say that the name of Jesus is beautiful is not to speak merely of phonetics. True, the word does have a gracious quality all its own, and even when I hear it spoken in other languages, it has a lovely sound. But its real beauty lies in its deep meaning.
c. Jesus' Consecration
Luke 2:22-24: Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord as it is written in the law of the Lord, every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord, and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
But circumcision was only the beginning. When Jesus was forty days old Mary and Joseph brought Him to the temple to present Him to the Lord. This was like a dedication service. They were consecrating their son Jesus to the Lord's service. Although they didn't know it then, Jesus would serve as the Great high Priest after the order of Melchizidek. They also presented a sacrifice for Mary's purification after childbirth. This was in fulfillment of the Law described in Leviticus 12: Their humble sacrifice would suggest that they were too poor to bring a lamb. But in reality Jesus was the Lamb of God!
Firstly, Jesus fulfilled God's Law. He was subject to the Lord's commands. He was circumcised and then consecrated to God's service. Have you read how Christ fulfilled Moses Law? Do you believe that Jesus is sinless? The name God gave Him declares His ministry. Jesus means Jehovah saves! Have you been saved through faith in Jesus Christ?
Secondly, Simeon Speaks
Simeon is described with glowing terms in the New Testament. He was a just or righteous man. Simeon was dedicated to the Lord's service. He is a trustworthy witness. Luke emphasized Simeon's righteousness first because of his testimony concerning Jesus Christ.
a. He Remained Alive
Luke 2:25-26: And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 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.
Simeon and Anna, like Zacharias and Elizabeth, were a part of the faithful Jewish remnant that eagerly looked for their Messiah. He knew how just how important the Messiah's ministry was. He knew that man's salvation depended on Him. As a result God promised Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. The consolation of Israel means the messianic hope. One of the traditional Jewish prayers is, May I see the consolation of Israel! Tradition says he was 113 years old, but it is only tradition. Nevertheless, God kept this faithful servant alive until he had seen the Messiah.
b. He Recognized Christ
Luke 2:27-30: So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation
Milk In Colored Bottle
A simple country man was being shown a red glass bottle full of milk. They asked him what was in the bottle. Wine? Brandy? Whisky? he replied, questioningly. He could not believe it was filled with milk till he saw the milk poured out from it. The redness of the bottle hid the color of the milk. So, it is with our Lord’s humanity. Man saw Him tired, hungry, suffering, weeping, and thought He was only a man. He was made in the likeness of men, yet He ever is God over all, blessed for ever.
The prayer of every devout Jew was answered for Simeon when he saw Jesus Christ in the temple. He was a man who was led by the Spirit of God, taught by the Word of God, and obedient to the will of God; and therefore he was privileged to see the salvation of God. How important it is for people to see God’s salvation, Jesus Christ, before they see death. Unless we recognize that Jesus Christ is God's Son and believe in Him we will perish in our sins. Simeon recognized just who Jesus was. Most people today only see a Babe in a manger. But Simeon saw the Savior of the world. He saw past Jesus' humanity and recognized His deity. Have you recognized the wonder of the incarnation? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is God's Son, the Savior of the world?
c. He Rejoiced
Luke 2:30-32: For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.
In Luke 2:29–32 we find Simeon’s response to seeing Jesus. Simeon praised the Lord for His goodness. He testified of God's faithfulness in fulfilling His promises. This is the fifth and last of the Christmas songs in Luke. It is first of all a worship hymn as he blesses God for keeping His promise and sending the Messiah. He joyfully praises God that he has been privileged to see the Lord’s Christ. But his song is also a salvation hymn: For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation. This hymn reveals and glorifies the Savior, Jesus Christ. Having seen the Messiah, Simeon is ready to die!
Becoming an Ant
I read of a Hindu who could not believe in Christianity because he could not contemplate a God who would so humble himself. Then one day the Hindu came upon an anthill. He tried to get close enough to it to study it, but every time he bent low, his shadow caused all the ants to scurry away. He recognized to himself that the only way in which he could ever come to know that colony of ants would be if he could somehow become an ant himself. And that was the moment his conversion took place. Now he understood the incarnation!
Simeon’s song is also a missionary hymn, which is something unusual for a devout Jew standing in the temple. He sees this great salvation going out to the Gentiles! Jesus has restored the glory to Israel and brought the light to the Gentiles so that all people can be saved. Jesus' birth is Good News for all the world not only the Jews. Remember that the compassion of Christ for the whole world is one of Luke’s major themes.
That Speck Of Light
An artist once drew a picture of a winter twilight — the trees heavily laden with snow, and a dreary, dark house, lonely and desolate in the midst of the storm. It was a sad picture. Then, with a quick stroke of yellow crayon, he put a light in one window. The effect was magical. The entire scene was transformed into a vision of comfort and cheer. The birth of Christ was just such a light in the dark world. He brought hope to a world trapped in darkness.
d. He Revealed
Luke 2:34-35: Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
In these words, Simeon prophesies concerning Jesus Christ. He stopped praising and started prophesying, and in his message he used three important images: The Stone, The Sign, and The Sword. Simeon declares the results of Christ's ministry. Many would be saved whilst others would be condemned. The response of people to Jesus Christ determines this outcome.
1. The Stone
The stone is an important Old Testament image of God. The Scriptures foretold that Messiah would be a rejected cornerstone, and the nation of Israel would stumble over Him. Those who rejected the stone would be crushed by it. Even today, God’s people Israel stumble over the Cross and do not understand that Jesus is their Rock. However others come to Jesus Christ the stone and fall in conviction and repentance. These ones then rise up in salvation.
The way people speak about Jesus Christ is evidence of what is in their hearts. He is not only the salvation stone and the judgment stone, He is also the touchstone that exposes what people are really like. What think ye of Christ? is still the most important question for anybody to answer. How we answer that question determines our eternal destiny.
1 Peter 2:4,6-8: Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame. Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone, and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.
Jesus, Our Divine Ladder - Martin Luther
We are not to ascend the study of the divine majesty before we have adequately understood this little infant. We are to ascend into heaven by that ladder which is placed before us, using those steps which God prepared and used. ... The Son of God does not want to be seen and found in heaven. Therefore he descended from heaven to this earth and came to us in our flesh. He placed himself in the womb of his mother, in her lap, and on the cross. And this is the ladder by which we are to ascend to God. Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father.
2. The Sign
The word sign means a miracle, not so much as a demonstration of power but as a revelation of divine truth. Our Lord’s miracles in John’s Gospel are called signs because they reveal truths about Him. Jesus Christ is God’s miracle; and yet, instead of admiring Him, the people attacked Him and spoke against Him. His birth was a miracle, yet they slandered it in John 8:41. They said His miracles were done in the power of Satan in Matthew 12:22–24. They slandered His death Matthew 27:39–44 and lied about His resurrection Matthew 27:62–66. Today, people are even speaking against His coming again 2 Peter 3. Yes, Jesus Christ has been spoken against more than any other person on the earth. People either love or hate Him.
Stupid Old Woman!
When Queen Victoria resided at Balmoral Castle she sometimes enjoyed a walk in the district incognito. On one occasion she slipped out by a side gate, accompanied only by her faithful servant John Brown, who followed behind. Along the road she came on a flock of sheep being driven by a boy, who shouted, Keep out of the way, stupid old woman! The Queen smiled, but said nothing, and when her servant came along he informed the lad that she was the Queen. Ugh, well, said the boy, she should dress like a queen. There were those who did not recognize the Son of God because He came in humble form.
3. The Sword
Luke 2:35: Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
The image of the sword was for Mary alone, and it spoke of the suffering and sorrow she would bear as the mother of the Messiah. The Greek word means a large sword such as Goliath used, and the verb means constantly keep on piercing. During our Lord’s life and ministry, Mary did experience more and more sorrow until one day she stood by His cross and saw Him die.
God kept His promise to Simeon and kept him alive to see the Messiah. When Jesus Christ came to the temple Simeon recognized Him immediately. He rejoiced and revealed God's plans for the child. Simeon knew that Jesus Christ was the Savior of the world. Have you recognized just who Jesus is? Have you believed in Him? Do you rejoice and bless God for providing your salvation?
Thirdly, Anna Speaks
Anna is the final witness that Luke mentions here. Her name means grace, and she was a godly widow of great age.
a. She Prayed To God
Luke 2:36-37: Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
Anna was a prophetess, which meant she had a special gift of declaring and interpreting God’s message. She devoted herself to serving God by worship through fastings and prayers. She prayed for her people. She moved from the tribe of Asher and remained in the temple, waiting for the appearing of God’s promised Messiah. Anna was very devoted to the Lord.
b. She Praised God
Luke 2:38a: And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord.
God’s timing is always perfect. Anna came up just as Simeon was praising the Lord for the Child Jesus, so she joined in the song! I would like to have heard these elderly people singing in the temple! Their praise was inspired by the Spirit of God, and God accepted it. Anna was moved by the wonder of the incarnation. She too recognized the Lord's Messiah!
c. She Preached Christ
Luke 2:38: And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
Anna did much more than sing; she also spread the Good News among the other faithful members of the remnant who were waiting for the redemption of Israel. There were others like Simeon who were watching and waiting for the coming of Messiah. Anna told them what she had seen. She spread the Good News. Great excitement began to spread as more and more people heard the Good News of Jesus' birth.
Tragically the religious leaders weren't interested in the Messiah's birth. They were to wrapped up with their own concerns. Unlike Simeon and Anna the Spirit could not lead them to the Savior. Their hearts were too hard. They didn't believe they needed a Savior!
Anna, like Simeon was looking for the Messiah. She was waiting expectantly for His coming. Because of this, Anna devoted herself to fasting and prayer. When Jesus came to the temple she was ready to behold Him and praise God. She was an excited believer. Anna's life was marked by prayer, praise and preaching. She couldn't wait to tell others that the Messiah had come. Are you excited about your Christian faith? Do you praise God for His salvation? Do you testify how Christ has saved you? Do you point them to Jesus Christ? What have you done to share the Good News with those around you?
This morning we heard three wonderful testimonies about Jesus. Each witness is trustworthy. We heard from Moses, Simeon & Anna. They recognized the significance of Christ's birth. They praised God for His Goodness. They pointed others to Him. What is your response? Who is Jesus Christ to you? If He's the Savior why don't you tell others about Him?
1 Timothy 1:17: Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.