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Dec 28 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

December 26, 2010

And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Fathers house?” Luke 2:49 (read 2:21-52)

INTRO: For many years, my parents had a stable Sunday routine

We would go to church, go out to lunch with other families, swing by the store for the Sunday paper on our way home, nap, and then return to church for the evening service
– the predictability of a routine can be boring, but it can also comforting
– if our weekdays are chaotic, then falling back into a routine on the weekend helps to restore our sanity

One Sunday Dad pulled up to the front of the grocery store and I jumped out as usual
– but inside the store, I noticed the heads of shoppers were all turned in one direction
– when I followed their gaze, coming through a check-out line and bigger than life, was John Wayne
It was like magic – this movie star stepped out of the silver screen and into the real world

Millions of people are certain their hope lies in getting out of something
– their small town, a dead-end job, a loveless marriage, the same old routine, etc.
– but getting out may not always be the best solution–it may not even be possible
When getting out is not the answer, we need to discover the magic that has entered our world

Verses 21-24 look like they were lifted directly from Leviticus 12

Luke is doing one of two things; he is either

  1. saying something about Joseph and Mary’s piety
    – that they are faithful to scripture, the Law, and the religion of Israel – or else –
  2. he is grounding the story itself in the scripture and tradition of Israel
    – the rituals they performed that day linked them to the ancient past
    – but Simeon’s blessings indicate that Jesus will bring about a radical breach with their present
    – that breach would affect the distant future

The connection to the ancient past and distant future places Jesus at the center of history
– he will not radically alter the Law or tradition, but fulfill them
– that is how he will render them obsolete

Verses 25-35, Simeon enters – a man of the Spirit

I have three initial observations to make regarding Simeon:

  1. Simeon moves and speaks by the Spirit
    – and the Spirit leads him to Jesus
  2. Simeon represents the person who has eyes to “see”
    – Luke builds a theme of sight around Simeon (“looking” in v. 25 & “see” & “seen” in v. 26)
    – in his song, Simeon blesses God because his “eyes have seen” God’s salvation
    – this salvation will come “in the presence of all people” (vv. 30-31); namely, 
    (1) to the Gentiles, “a Light of revelation” – and –
    (2) to God’s people Israel, “the glory of Your people”
    – this second reference recalls OT prophecies such as Zechariah 2:5,
    “For I,” declares the LORD, “will be a wall of fire around her, and I will the be the glory in her midst”
    – but the revelation is not only of God and his salvation, it also reveals what is inside people, “the thoughts of many hearts” (v. 35)
    – God reveals what he is doing for us, but there is a corresponding revelation of what is in us
  3. Simeon regards this moment as the climax of his life
    – he is now content to “depart in peace”–Jesus is the end of his quest
    – he found in Jesus the consolation he had been looking for
    – he did not see the completion of God’s project, but held in his arms the One who would make it happen

Verses 36-38, Anna enters – a woman of worship

Anna is a woman who is totally committed to God
– the expression of her commitment is prayer and worship
(“serving” translates a word that is used in the context of worship)

At this point in Israel’s history, God’s people were looking for something
– Simeon, for “the consolation of Israel”
– others, for “the redemption of Jerusalem”
Anna had a message for those who were looking for Jerusalem’s ransom–her message was Jesus

Verses 39-50, Jesus – a boy of keen insight

It has always amused me that Joseph and Mary left Jesus behind and did not know it
Joseph: “I thought he was with you!
Mary: “I was sure he must have been with you!
– some believers make the mistake of meeting with Jesus at church, but then leave him there when they go

Luke gives us a striking insight into Jesus’ self-awareness
– who he was, his relation to God, and his work

Verses 51-52, Conclusion of Part 1

We’re now ready to look at the big picture

What is Luke is doing in this passage?

Through the various scenes, characters, and movements in the story, he shows us that Jesus is extraordinary

  • by the immediate reaction of people: they were “amazed” at the things that were said of Jesus and of Jesus himself (vv. 33 & 47)
  • by using extraordinary people who are especially qualified to recognize the extraordinariness of Jesus
  • by reporting Jesus’ extraordinary conversation with educated teachers when he was only twelve years old

And where do these extraordinary moments take place? In the temple

But doesn’t this all extraordinariness dissolve in his return to Nazareth? (v. 51)

And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them”

Suddenly he goes back to being a boy–his parents’ son
– mothers have a way of reducing their sons to utter embarrassment, even those who are most respected and feared

What is this about?
– it is about Jesus being subject to elemental forces–parents, growing up, receiving an education, and so on
– in other words, it is about Jesus fully entering our situation–this is where we live

  • Jesus came, like everyone else, “under the law” (vv. 21-27)
  • Jesus had to mature through normal developmental stages
    – even if his development was extraordinary
    – like all of us, he had to “learn obedience” (He. 5:8)
  • Jesus had to live in subjection to his parents
    – who are remarkably uncomprehending (vv. 49-50)
    – and not only his parents, but the political and social world of Caesar, Herod, Pilate, chief priests, and Pharisees

Jesus did not demand to be treated as extraordinary
– in fact, only those with eyes to see discovered his extraordinariness

It is because Jesus is both extraordinary and at the same time “one of us” (“Son of Man”) that he can be the consolation and redemption for which people were looking

Helmut Thielicke developed this beautifully in volume 2 of  The Evangelical Faith (pgs. 296-302)

Christ is not just the one in whom the world was made and who is coming again. He is also the one who has come, who was born in Bethlehem, who was tempted with us and alongside us, who died with us and alongside us, who thus bears the pressure of history, with us and alongside us, who is in solidarity with us. He does not march alone in cosmic sovereignty over the world. He also enters the ship and is with us as it is battered by the waves (Matthew 8:23-27).
First, Christ can be our Redeemer only because he himself stands at the place for which he redeems us, the place of eternal fellowship with the Father, the place where God’s lordship embraces us. As one who stands thus at the side of the Father he is both the goal and the means of redemption. . . . For he is not just a station on the way which we must pass through to reach God and then leave behind.
Secondly, Christ is our Redeemer only to the extent that in solidarity with us he is our Brother who bears the burden of our guilt and fate and brings us home in love.

CONC: What Luke is trying to get us to see

It’s not just the teaching and miracles of Jesus that shape our faith and life in God
– not just his words and works, but it is this Person who is revealed to us
– this calls for a corresponding revelation of me; that it’s not just my words and works that Jesus is after
– he is concerned with the person that I become in him; that I am a new creation

We put our faith in Jesus because he is extraordinary
But we trust him because we know he is here with us
– here in subjection, only because we are in subjection
– and we know that we are safe with him

This is the miracle
– it isn’t always a matter of finding our way out of an unpleasant situation in life
– but of finding Jesus here with us in our situation

But this means we need those eyes that see
– we develop eyes that see through holding our attention on God in prayer
– it is similar to what we see Mary doing when she “treasured all these things in her heart”
– she did not allow the distractions of her strange circumstances rob her mind of these treasures

Sometimes we have to get our of out prayers to get into prayer
– out of our repititious begging and whining, which only reinforces our negative outlook and does nothing to move God’s hand or transform our heart and mind
– out of our formal prayers and into the spirit of prayer

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