Turn to Luke 2. Luke has been a great book and we read it when we had our candlelight service, but it’s been a great book to help us understand more than any other gospel what went on in Jesus’s life when he was born. All the things that went on, there was so much that Luke has told us that the other gospels didn’t help us with. And so it’s been a great study in Luke Chapter one, he talked about Zachariah and Elizabeth and the coming of John the Baptist being more than the birth of John the Baptist. And then Gabriel announced to Mary, he foretold Christ birth. And then later on in the chapter, Mary goes and visits Zachariah and Elizabeth, and she sings that amazing Magnificat that she sings.
And then at the end of chapter one, John the Baptist is born and Zachariah now give some prophecy about what his ministry is going to be about. And then to begin chapter two, we get the census being ordered and Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem and obviously no room for them. In the end, Jesus is born in the manger and then the angels and the angel of the Lord announced to all the shepherds, “Guess what? Savior’s coming. Savior has been born, he’s Christ the Lord.” And so, it’s a wonderful summary of a lot of the things that went on leading up to and Christ birth. We get a little bit out of Matthew about Christ birth. Matthew talks a little bit about Mary’s betrothed to Joseph, and it talks about her being with child by the Holy spirit.
And then we get something interesting in Matthew that Luke doesn’t tell us about. It tells us about when the angel comes to Joseph and helps Joseph understand what’s going on. So we get a little bit of Matthew, but a whole bunch in the Book of Luke, more so than any place else. Well, as we keep going in Luke Chapter Two, now we get to pick up some things about Jesus’s early life. And we’re just going to focus on the first few weeks that Jesus was alive. But we don’t get this any place else except in Luke. And so it makes it unique and it makes it a fun study to be able to study this. But Luke Chapter Two, we’re going to look at three events that went on in the first few weeks of Jesus’s life and see how they might be helpful to us and how they might help us understand some things about us in our lives today as believers.
So I want to start with Luke 2, I’ll read verses 21 to 24. It says, “And when eight days had passed before his circumcision, his name was then called Jesus, a name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of their purification, according to the law of Moses were accomplished or were completed, they brought him up to Jerusalem and presented him to the Lord as it is written in the law of the Lord, every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called Holy, unto the Lord. And to offer the sacrifice, according to what was said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves, and two young pigeons.” Now, interesting thing here, we learned some things about the faithfulness of Joseph and Mary. The faithfulness of Joseph and Mary to keep the law, to obey the law, to maintain the law.
The first thing they do is when Jesus is eight, they have him circumcised, just like the law said. They have him circumcised to fulfill the covenant that God gave to Abraham, to fulfill the law that God gave later in Leviticus. And then also to get him named, to give him the name that God said, that the angel said, this is what his name is going to be, Jesus. We see in Genesis 17, the first part of chapter 12, verse 12, chapter 17, the first part of verse 12, it says, “And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generation.” That was a covenant that God made with Abraham. And then he continued that covenant in the law where he said in Leviticus Chapter 12 and verse three, he says, “And on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.”
And then when the angel came to Joseph in Matthew Chapter One, in Verse 21, he told Joseph this, “Talking about Mary, she will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus. And he shall save his people from their sins.” And so everything that went on, on this eighth day, it was to accomplish all of that. Was to fulfill the covenants that God had given, the covenant with Abraham, the law that he had given for circumcision, and then name him Jesus, the name that the angel of the Lord had told them. And then again, to fulfill the law and to show their faithfulness to the law, Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple after 40 days. Now, this was important because after 40 days Mary was to complete her purification after having a child and to redeem Jesus as the first born of Mary. That’s what this important step was.
And so in Leviticus 12 Verse six, it says this, and it says, “When the days of her purification are complete for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring the priest or to the priest at the door of the tent of meeting a one-year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtle dove for a sin offering.” Now, verse eight gives them a different option if they can’t afford the lamb, it says, “But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, one for the burnt offering and the other for the sin offering and the priest shall make atonement for her and she will be clean.” So we can see the law required a lamb for the burnt offering, a one year old unblemished lamb for the burnt offering and either a turtledove or a pigeon for the sin offering.
And if you couldn’t do that, then two turtledoves, two pigeons for the burnt offering and the sin offering, whatever you could afford. And it’s interesting that the way Luke mentions it, Luke mentions it like this, he says that they did this to fulfill the law and brought a pair of turtledoves, and two young pigeons. And what we learn from that is that Mary and Joseph were not rich. Mary and Joseph were poor. And so they had to go with the option of that they couldn’t afford a lamb. But I think it’s even more critical to think about this is they couldn’t afford a lamb, but then you think about it and they had the lamb in their arms. They had the lamb of God in their arms, the lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world was right there in their arms. So it made no sense for them to offer a lamb for the lamb, does it?
I think God worked it out just right. So that they weren’t offering a lamb because we know Jesus is the lamb. But Mary and Joseph were faithful to the law and when Jesus was a baby and that’s important to us. That helps us because when we talk about Jesus being the fulfillment of the law, we’re not just talking about him dying and raising again so that there is no more need for the law. That’s true, but that’s not just what we’re talking about. When we talk about Jesus fulfilling the law, we’re talking about him keeping every aspect of the law. Every part of the law, Jesus is the only one that could keep all of the law. That ever would be able to keep all the law. And he kept God’s law perfectly. And Mary and Joseph had a part in that in bringing him on the eighth day and having him circumcised and bringing him to the temple for the remainder, for the purification rights, the completion of the purification rights.
In Matthew Chapter five, Verse 17, it says, Jesus is saying this himself. He says, “Do not think that I come to abolish the law or the prophets, I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” Jesus is very clear. I came to fulfill the law, fulfilling the laws is keeping it completely. He’s the only one that could. Romans eight and Verse three says, “For what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did. Sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin.” The law couldn’t do it. God did. Sending Jesus. In Romans Chapter 10, Verse four, this one’s interesting, “It says because for Christ is the end…” That word end means the goal. “For Christ is the goal of the law for righteousness, for everyone who believes.” The goal of the law all long was righteousness. But now Christ is the goal of the law and the end of the law for everyone who believes.
What that means is that you and I that believe have his righteousness. We have it because he is the fulfillment of the law. Galatians four Verses four and five say this, “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his son, born of a woman, born under the law so that he might redeem those who were under the law that we might receive the adoption as sons.” That’s pretty amazing to me. Jesus was born under the law. His parents kept the law. They were faithful to keeping the law. He lived under the law and lived perfectly under the law. And because he did, we’re no longer under the law and by faith in him, we are now adopted as sons and daughters into his family. That’s incredible to me that God has made it that way. And by faith in him, we have his righteousness because he is the goal of the law.
Now, secondly, in Luke Chapter Two, I want to look at verses 25 through 35, little bit of a long section, but such a unique section of God’s word. It says, “And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. And he was a righteous and devout, looking 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. And he came in the spirit into the temple. And when his parents brought the child Jesus to carry out for him, the custom of the law, then he took him into his arms and he blessed God and said, ‘Now, Lord, you are releasing your bond servant to depart in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation for the Gentiles and the glory of your people, Israel.’.
And his father and his mother were amazed at the things which were being said about him and Simeon blessed them and then 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. And the sword will pierce her own soul. And to the end, that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.'” So it’s interesting that Mary and Joseph, they come to the temple and in order to fulfill the law, and while they’re at the temple, they run into Simeon. God says about Simeon, that he was righteous and devout. He walked with God. He took God’s word and God’s promises seriously. That’s the kind of person that Simeon was. And he looked for the consolation of Israel.
All that means is that he was eagerly waiting and looking for the Messiah. The Messiah is a consolation of Israel and Simeon was anxious for this Messiah to come and constantly looking for him. And then he said, “He had the Holy Spirit on him.” God had placed his Holy Spirit on Simeon because he had a specific plan, a very particular function that he had planned for Simeon. Now, remember under the old covenant, the Holy Spirit didn’t indwell people like the Holy spirit does now. When you place your faith and belief in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes and indwells you. Well under the old covenant, God just gave his spirit to people when they needed it, or when he had a specific plan or a specific function for them to do.
And so we see in this situation, the new covenant didn’t start until Jesus Christ died and was buried and rose again. That’s what instituted the new covenant. So what’s going on here in the gospel is still under the old covenant. Simeon is still operating under the old covenant, that we just read. Jesus was born under the law, born under the old covenant. And he lived under the old covenant. And so the Holy spirit was upon Simeon because this is the way that God worked through his servants at this time. And so the Bible says that the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon and God had a very specific plan for Simeon, an important plan for Simeon because he was going to reveal to the world his Messiah. That by the way was just a few weeks old.
He’s going to reveal to the world who the Messiah is. And so Simeon is led by the spirit again, into the temple at the exact time Joseph and Mary were coming into the temple and immediately he knows who Jesus is and he knows what Jesus is going to do. And he takes Jesus in his arm and he blesses God. And he says, “Now Lord, you are releasing your bond servant to depart in peace.” Simeon had… God had already told Simeon, “You’re not going to die until you see the Messiah, until you see the Lord’s Christ, you’re not going to die.” And so Simeon says now to God, he says, “Now I can die. Lord I’m okay dying now because I have seen your Messiah. I’ve seen your salvation,” he says. He says, “According to your word, just like you said, I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.”
Now not only had Simeon said, “I can die in peace now.” But then he really revealed some amazing stuff about this child that he’s holding in his arms. He says, “God’s prepared him for all people. He’s going to be a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Israel.” Now you understand this, that at this time in history, there were really only two people groups. You were either of the chosen people of God, a Jew, or you were a Gentile. That was the only two options. And so in Israel, they looked for their Messiah. They were anxiously waiting this Messiah, their Redeemer, because they wanted this Messiah to save them from the oppression of their enemies.
But the Messiah that God sent though, he was the glory of Israel, he came for all people, Jews and Gentiles alike, Luke says. And he came for a completely different salvation. So Luke says that Mary and Joseph, when they heard Simeon sell these things, they were amazed. And if you put yourself in their shoes for just a minute, you can kind of see why. Jesus is only a few weeks old, only a few people knew who Jesus was and knew what his significance was in the world. Very few people. And now they come into the temple and they run into this guy they’ve never met. And he’s all of a sudden telling them who Jesus is and all that he’s going to do. They had to be amazed.
They had to be in wonder of all that was going on. And even though they were amazed, they had to kind of change in two a, like a concern at the things Simeon then says to Mary in his prophecy. He says, “This child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel. And for a sign to be opposed and a sword will pierce your own soul and to the end, that thoughts from many hearts will be revealed.” The word fall here means downfall. So he’s saying this child is going to be the downfall and the rising up of many in Israel. And he’s a sign to be opposed. And the sign refers to miracles, like it does in many parts of the New Testament. But not so much miracles that demonstrate divine power, but miracles that reveal divine truth. And in revealing that divine truth, it also reveals the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
And so what Simeon is really saying about him is that Jesus is God’s miracle because he’s revealing the truth about who God is. And that truth as you and I will know, it has been, and it always will be opposed and spoken against. And it’s going to reveal what’s truly in people’s heart. It’s that truth that reveals what’s in our hearts. And then Simeon says, finally to Mary, he says, “That a sword is going to pierce your own soul.” You notice that the prophecy that Simeon gave is just to Mary, indicating that Joseph probably isn’t going to be around later when Mary sees this prophecy fulfilled. And we know that she did, we know that her soul was pierced by the experiences that she saw and the awful way that Jesus was treated and then the way he suffered for the world.
And so Mary experienced that. There’s no question. So we see in Simeon a man of hope. He had great trust and he had great hope in the promises of God. And he looked for the fulfillment of those promises. And to me, this is interesting. He wasn’t surprised when God did it. Sometimes we find ourselves a little bit surprised when God does stuff. I wonder if Jesus is really our hope and if he is, and when we are, are we going to be surprised when he shows up or even the future are we going to be surprised when Jesus shows up? Colossians 1:27 says, “To whom God will to make known what are the riches of his glory, of his mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Jesus Christ is our hope. Jesus Christ is our hope daily, Christ in you. And he’s our hope, the hope of glory. He’s our ultimate hope.
Titus 2:13 says it this way, “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ.” We’re looking for that blessed hope. Are we looking for Christ who is in us, the hope of glory even now and in the future? I hope we’re not surprised by his appearing. Simeon wasn’t surprised at all, when God’s promise was fulfilled and the Messiah appeared, he had been looking for it. He was waiting before. Finally, let’s look at the next few verses in Luke Chapter two, and we’re introduced to a very interesting woman starting in Verse 36, the Bible says, “And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter Phanuel and of the tribe of Asher. And she was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage. And then as a widow to the age of 84.
And she never left the temple serving night and day with fastings and prayers at the very moment that she came upon, said she came up and began to get at that very moment, talking about the moment that Simeon had declared Jesus as the Messiah, at that very moment, she came up and she began to give thanks to God and continued to speak of him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Israel or the redemption of Jerusalem.” Anna was a prophetess, she’d been married seven years but now she had been widowed and she was now 84 years old. And what’s amazing to me is that means that Anna had served in the temple night and day as the Bible says, for something like 60 years. Night and day, she served in the temple, fasting and praying and waiting for the promised appearing of God’s Messiah.
She was looking for it too. And she didn’t just fast and pray, but she was continually talking about this coming Messiah to those that were looking for him as well. She looked for Jesus to come. She looked for the Messiah to come and she continually talked about the Messiah coming. And when he came, she kept talking about the Messiah. She kept telling people about the Messiah she had now seen. That’s Anna. Anna it was a person to me of great love. She loved God. She served him night and day in the temple for many, many years. She trusted him, fasting and praying to him, looking for answers. And she was looking for his Messiah. But she didn’t just love God, she loved others also. She had to have spent time fasting and praying for those others that she talked to Jesus about.
And she told them about the coming Messiah. And she didn’t stop telling about the coming Messiah after she understood he had came, she kept telling them. She kept talking about this Messiah that had appeared. She loved people enough to keep talking to them and keep telling him about him. And she’s a wonderful example to us, of putting love into practice. I believe because she focused on God. She focused on loving God. She focused on loving others. And she told others about Jesus. I mean, and that’s really the purpose of the church. I mean, that’s our mission statement, Love God, Love Others and Make Disciples, tell people about Jesus. That’s really… Anna was the church in person at the temple, for many, many years.
We have some verses that help us understand what our responsibility is as a church. Matthew 22, starting in verse 37. And he said to them, when he was asked, what’s the greatest law, he says, “You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. This is the greatest and the foremost commandment.” And the second isƒ you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love God and love others. He says on these two commandments depend the law and the prophets. In Matthew 28 later on in verse 19, he says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you and lo I’m with you to the end of the age,” he says.
I’m with you always. That word go is kind of interesting in that verse because it’s not just one time go. It means as you are going, as you go, as you live this Christian life, do that. Make disciples. The next chapter eight, we know this and in Acts Chapter one, Verse eight, it says, “But you receive power after the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in both Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria. And even to the remotest part of the earth.” That’s just being the church. Those are the things that we do being the church. Love God, love others, help people learn about Jesus and help people follow Jesus better. That’s it. That’s part of being the church. I think Paul summarizes these three items that we’ve focused on this morning beautifully in 1st Corinthians 13 in verse 13, he says, “But faith, hope and love abide these three. But the greatest of these is love.”
The word abide in these verses means remain. Faith, hope and love, remain. Faith, hope and love remain in us because we are already in Christ, if you’re a believer in the Lord Jesus. So faith, hope and love already remain in you. And the greatest truth that remains in us is love. So that we love God and love others. And so that we help others learn about Jesus. I think some of us are facing challenging circumstances this past year. And with the new year upon us, we know that we have no idea what we could face in the new year. But listen with Christ as our foundation, with Christ as our solid rock, we can recognize what already remains in us. What we have. Faith, hope and love remains in us. We have that. We have faith in knowing all that we are and all that we have because Jesus fulfilled the law perfectly.
We have so much because we are in him and he fulfilled the law perfectly. We have hope in the promises of God like Simeon, looking for that blessed hope, looking for Christ, both in our daily lives and the future. I know we get in a place to where we want to look for that blessed hope out in the future all the time. But we have that blessed hope right now with us. And finally love to our Lord, love to fellow believers, love to our community. As we continue to tell others about our savior, about Jesus Christ. Faith, hope, and love abide in us. We have them. That’s my prayer that we depend on that faith, hope and love that remains in us throughout this coming year. And then whatever goes on, the things that happen to us, this just might be a little easier to take. It just might be a little easier to deal with.