Sermons

Sun, Dec 27, 2015

What Child is This?

Duration:46 mins 10 secs

What Child is This? 

 It’s hard to believe that another Christmas has come and gone! 

 For followers of Jesus the Christmas season holds a special meaning 

 It’s when we celebrate the birth of Jesus – Emmanuel, God with us! 

 Today I want to take a look at one of my favorite stories surrounding the birth of Jesus 

 Our passage today is found in Luke 2, starting at verse 21 

 I preached on this passage of Scripture 2 years ago, but I want to take a look at it again today from a different angle 

 Luke 2:21  On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. 22  When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23  (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"), 24  and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."  

 At this time Joseph and Mary were living under the Old Covenant 

 In this Covenant God required a couple of things regarding the birth of a child  

 First is that each male child was to be circumcised on the 8th day. This was also the day where the baby would be officially named 

 The second thing of note here is that in the Law, God specifically stated that every firstborn male was to be consecrated 

 What this meant was that devout Jews would take their first born male child to the temple where they would present him, along with an offering, to a priest. 

 The child would then be dedicated to the Lord 

 The sacrifice mentioned here of the two doves or pigeons was a purification ritual for Mary 

 Giving birth made a woman “unclean” and part of the purification detailed in the Law was this sacrifice 

 Not everyone followed these Laws, but we are told in Matthew 1:19 that Joseph was a “righteous man” which meant that he did his best to follow the Law 

 Combine this with the fact that Joseph and Mary had both been visited by angels who told them this baby was the prophesied Messiah, and I think that would bring even more encouragement for Joseph and Mary to follow the Law in this instance 

 They had no idea what was about to happen, they were just being obedient to God 

 Of course, from my experience, the best blessings are the unexpected ones! 

 25  Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 

 I find this absolutely amazing! 

 A man named Simeon was waiting for the “consolation of Israel” – in other words, he was waiting for the coming Messiah 

 This was something everyone was waiting for back then 

 Much like people are waiting for the return of Jesus today 

 We do not know the details, but Simeon apparently had a great relationship with God  

 We are told that “the Holy Spirit was upon him” 

 This was quite unusual 

 Today, every genuine follower of Jesus has the Holy Spirit, but under the Old Covenant someone having the Holy Spirit was quite rare 

 This speaks highly of Simeon and his desire to follow God 

 Simeon had such an amazing relationship with God that God promised Simeon that he would not die until he saw the messiah! 

 Can you imagine having such a relationship with God? 

  27  Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28  Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29  "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30  For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31  which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32  a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." 33  The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him.  

 Simeon responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to go into the temple courtyards 

 We can’t know for sure, but it’s highly likely that Mary and Joseph were not the only parents bringing their firstborn to the temple that day 

 The temple was a very busy place and I can just see Simeon looking out over the courtyard at all the people 

 He’s seeing several parents bringing their babies and all of a sudden his eyes fall on Mary & Joseph carrying Jesus 

 The Holy Spirit says to Simeon “Remember the promise I gave you about seeing the Messiah? There He is!” 

 Can you imagine how excited Simeon must have been? 

 He rushes over to Mary and Joseph and gazes into the tiny face of Jesus – the long awaited Messiah! 

 I can just picture the tears of joy streaming down Simeon’s face as he takes Jesus into his arms! 

  As amazing as all of these events are they are not what I want to focus on 

 What I want to focus on today are the prophetic words spoken by Simeon 

 We are not told specifically that Simeon was a prophet 

 We know that he was righteous and devout, and that the Holy Spirit was upon him, but he was not necessarily a prophet 

 Even though Simeon was not a prophet that doesn’t mean that he could not prophesy 

 I firmly believe that every believer can prophesy even if they do not necessarily have the gift of prophecy 

 Simeon had the Holy Spirit and through the Holy Spirit said some pretty amazing things: 

 The first thing Simeon did was praise God 

 He basically said “God, you have kept your promise – I have seen the Messiah and can now die in peace!” 

 Simeon said a couple of other very profound things 

 He said “my eyes have seen your salvation” 

 Simeon was referring to Jesus as the Salvation of Israel 

 This was certainly true, but not exactly as Mary and Joseph would expect – more on this in a few minutes 

 Simeon called Jesus “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” 

 This would have been a pretty controversial statement and I’m sure it shocked Mary and Joseph a little 

 The reason that I say this is that the Jews in first century Israel were very racist.  

 According to their beliefs Gentiles were doomed 

 They believed that it was impossible for Gentiles to be in a right relationship with God 

 The only hope that Gentiles had was to convert to Judaism, and only then could they experience the grace and love of God 

 To say that the Messiah was coming to bless the Gentiles too would have been unthinkable 

 After all, they were waiting for the Messiah to come and destroy the enemies of Israel – which all happened to be Gentiles 

 How could the Messiah do that and bless the Gentiles at the same time? 

 It would not have made any sense to a first century Jew 

 But did you ever notice that God often works in ways that do not make sense 

 We are told that Mary and Joseph “marveled” at Simeon’s words, but he was not done yet 

 34  Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35  so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." 

 What exactly is Simeon saying to Mary? 

 “The rising and falling of many in Israel” 

 There are those who “rise” at the words of Jesus and those who “fall” 

 You would expect that it would be the “holy” people that would rise – the priests, the Pharisees, and the other religious leaders 

 After all, these were the people that taught the Law and did their best to follow not only the 613 Laws that God gave, but the hundreds of extra rules added on by religious leaders over the years 

 These people followed all the rules and knew the Scriptures better than anyone else in their day 

 It would only make sense that these people would be the ones that would rise up, yet this group by and large rejected Jesus 

 They were constantly trying to trip Him up with trick questions and were plotting to find ways to kill Jesus 

 Jesus’ teaching of love, grace, and mercy caused these “holy” people to fall 

 Who were the ones that rose up? 

 The common people, the nobodies, the rejects and outcasts – the ones living on the fringes of society 

 The freaks, the geeks, and the weirdos 

 The last people anyone would expect 

 These were the ones that rose up 

 That was how it was in first century Israel, and that is how it often is today 

 Why is it like that? 

 I think much of it was because Jesus was not at all what they expected 

He didn’t follow the party line of legalism and judgement 

 {explain legalism – trying to gain God’s favor by following rules} 

 Jesus was constantly saying things like “you heard it was said … but I say …” 

 Instead of adding rules and regulations Jesus whittled everything down to 2 rules – love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself 

 Jesus was constantly calling out the religious leaders on their hypocrisy – something they really did not appreciate 

 It’s easy to see with all of this how these religious leaders fell 

 Contrast this with the ones who rose up 

 Theses outcasts and misfits would have never dreamed that God would use them – after all, they were nothing special 

 Yet it was through these freaks, geeks, weirdos, and misfits that God changed the world! 

 When you bring hope to the hopeless it’s easy to see how they would rise to the occasion! 

 “A sign that will be spoken against” 

 And oh how they spoke against Him! 

 “A friend of tax collectors and sinners” 

 They said Jesus was crazy, that He was demon possessed  

 They called Him a drunkard and a glutton 

 What did the people have against Jesus? 

 It certainly was not His lifestyle 

 Jesus openly challenged anyone to point out a single sin that He had committed, and they could not do it 

 In His trial before the crucifixion there was no evidence that could be found to accuse Jesus of heresy 

 They had to pay people to lie so Jesus could be accused 

 I think that what Jesus did to make them so mad was challenge their belief structure 

People do not like their beliefs challenged 

 “The thoughts of many hearts will be revealed” 

 Any time Jesus’ message of love, grace, and mercy comes up against legalism people will get upset 

 You never really know the true heart of a person until you see them when they are upset 

 Jesus ticked off a lot of people, and this brought out who they really were 

 “A sword will pierce your own soul too” 

 This can only be speaking about the crucifixion of Jesus 

 No parent should ever have to experience the death of a child 

 Those of us who have can tell you how excruciatingly painful it is 

 But more than this Mary also saw her Son tortured and crucified!  

 It must have been very much like a sword piercing her soul 

 In fact, a sword would be far less painful! 

 36  There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37  and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38  Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 

 More confirmation of who Jesus was! 

 So, what does all of this mean to us? 

 You’ve heard me say this many times, but I fully believe we are on the edge of a great move of God 

 I also believe that we are very near the return of Jesus 

 This coming move of God may be the final revival before the return of Jesus 

 I am also fully convinced that this coming revival is going to shake things up in the Church big time 

 There is going to be a rising and falling of many 

 There will be many Godly people that will be openly spoken against 

 This is already happening – pick anyone who is doing great things for the Kingdom of God and you will have people speaking against them 

 The thoughts of many hearts will definitely be revealed 

 There may even be some people that feel their soul was pierced by a sword 

 This means that, above all else, we must be in tune with the Holy Spirit 

 We must know what God is saying to His people 

 The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were convinced that they had everything figured out, and totally missed what God was doing 

 My prayer is that we do not do the same thing! 

Harvest Family Fellowship

28 Shaffer Hill Road

Liberty PA, 16930

Pastor Harry

Church: 570-324-2349

Home: 570-324-5805

Cell: 570-772-3862

Email: pastorharry@harvestfam.org

Associate Pastor Mike

Cell: 570-404-1536

pastormike@harvestfam.org